|The NAM features a Westland Seaking from the very first batch procured in the early 70s – IN-505. Only the initial batches of the Seakings sported the dark Navy blue and white scheme , the later batches reverting to Sea grey.|
Compared to the small size of the Hughes, the Seaking is on the other extreme. It is as large as a small Bus and when it flies its leaves an indelible impression on the spectator! The Seaking was manufactured by the Westland company in Britain and was procured to fulfill an ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) requirement in the Navy.
The first of the Seakings were procured in the early 70s. On 3 Nov 1970, Two Seakings were handed over the Indian High Commissioner for UK. The two Helicopters IN-501 and IN-502 were commissioned as INAS 330 Squadron in 1971. Soon the first batch of 12 Seakings were operational.
Over the years, the Seakings not only formed the ASW squadron on the aircraft carriers, but became the ASW chopper of choice – equipping all Indian manufactured ships like the Godavari class frigates and the Delhi class destroyers. The Seaking also became the preferred mount for the Marcos (Marine Commandos).
|A closer look of the Helicopters reveals the squadron insignia of the ‘Harpoons’ on the nose.|
The first batch of Seakings procured in the 70s have completed their technical life and have since been retired. As many as five of them are now in various locations earmarked for preservation. One of these five is IN-505 now seen at NAM.
IN-505 was first reported to have arrived towards the end of 2002, even though the NAM had plans to procure a Seaking as far back as 2000. It is currently displayed in the area in front of the vehicle parking, just ahead and besides the massive Super Constellation. As with the other examples seen elsewhere, the condition of the aircraft is top notch and nothing can be asked more of it.