|In response to the growing need for shipborne
helicopter assets in the Pacific, July 1989 found HS 443 Squadron
transferred to Victoria International Airport at Pat Bay to provide the Commander of Maritime
Forces Pacific with Helicopter Air Detachments (HELAIRDETs). The Squadron
was housed in one of the original RCAF Hangars which were built during WW
II and provided HELAIRDETs to HMCS HURON, ANNAPOLIS and PROTECTEUR.
Early in 1995, HS 443 was re-designated as 443 Maritime Helicopter (MH)
Squadron to better fit the ever-changing geopolitical situations and the
increasingly diverse roles of maritime helicopters and the ships they
support. While 443 Squadron is operationally part of 12 Wing on the east coast, it
receives administrative support from CFB Esquimalt.
443 Squadron has been
an active participant in several operations in support of the United
Nations in recent years. The squadron supported several maritime interdiction
missions to the Arabian Gulf during the mid-1990s, and the deployment to East Timor in
support of OPERATION TOUCAN in 1999. 443 Squadron was also
directly involved in OPERATION APOLLO in the Arabian Sea as part of
Canada’s contribution to the War on Terrorism following the attacks of
September 11th, 2001. HELAIRDETs are provided for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships
ATHABASKAN, VANCOUVER, REGINA, WINNIPEG, CALGARY, OTTAWA, and PROTECTEUR.
In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, 443 (MH) Squadron embarked on
an operational tempo unrivalled in recent memory with the commitments of
all four HELAIRDETs to the War on Terrorism. In addition to its operational role
supporting the Canadian Pacific Fleet, 443 Squadron has several secondary duties including Search and Rescue,
sovereignty surveillance, support to the Department of Fisheries and
Oceans, and support to the RCMP. The aircrew, groundcrew and all personnel of 443(MH) Squadron are
continuously committed to providing combat
ready helicopters, as well as air and ground crews to conduct embarked and
shore-based air operations in direct support of Maritime Forces Pacific.
During the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Olympics, 443
Squadron provided air support to the Air Component Commander providing
maritime surveillance, troop support, VIP transfers and support to the
RCMP Emergency Response Teams.
With the purchase of the Sikorsky Cyclone CH148
helicopters to replace the Sea King, the WW II generation hangar and
HQ/Administration buildings will be replaced with a modern building.
This newspaper article announces the project.
Posted on Tue, Feb 22, 2011, 9:56 pm by Cindy
Harnett, Postmedia News
VICTORIA – A new $155-million helicopter
base will be built near Victoria to house some of the 28 Cyclone choppers
on order to replace Canada’s decades-old Sea Kings, Prime Minister Stephen
Harper announced Tuesday. The 20,000-square-metre facility – part of
Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt – is expected to be completed by the end of
2014, prior to the helicopters’ expected arrival that following spring.
Nine of the new choppers will be housed at 443 Squadron just outside of
Victoria. The squadron, while technically an arm of the air force, comes
under the purview of CFB Esquimalt. The Sea Kings often deploy with the
Esquimalt-based frigates; the Cyclones will do the same when they come
“Our purpose today is to announce an important investment in Canada’s West
Coast defences,” Harper said. “The first duty of a national government is
to protect its people and its territory from external threats.”
The larger facility will replace the 60-year-old hangar near Victoria
International Airport. It will also accommodate 350 personnel. Its
construction is expected to generate more than 800 jobs, the federal
government said. Given the requirement for more space and an appropriate
fire-suppression system for the new helicopters, it is more cost-effective
to build a new facility, rather than renovate and expand the existing
hangar, the government said. The prime minister paid tribute to the
history of 443 Squadron, formerly known as the Hornet Squadron with the
motto: “Our sting is death.”
“It is as dangerous to Canada’s enemies today as it ever was,” Harper
said. “In a few years, 443 Squadron will be re-equipped with the powerful
state-of-the art Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone that will give the Hornets a
The squadron used Spitfires and gained a “tremendous reputation over
Europe in the Second World War,” Harper said. It was re-formed in 1951,
disbanded in 1964, reactivated in 1974 as 443 Anti-Submarine Helicopter
Squadron in Nova Scotia, and moved to Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island in
the late 1980s.
In 1995, the squadron changed its name to 443 Maritime Helicopter
Squadron, flying six CH-124 Sea Kings. Following Tuesday’s announcement,
the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Peter Allan, said: “The future
is bright for 443 Squadron.”
Defence Minister Peter MacKay praised the armed forces.
“Your dedication is matched by our actions and by the provision of
appropriate resources to support you,” he said.
The replacement of the Sea Kings, more than 40 years old, dates back to
then-prime minister Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government.
The cost of the purchase, training and 20 years’ maintenance of 28
Cyclones is estimated at $5.7 billion.