The Navy retired the UH-3H Sea King helicopter 11 December 2009 after more than 50 years in service, making the Sea King the longest serving operational helicopter model in Navy history. The first Sea King flew on March 11, 1959 and the last one was manufactured in 1986.
The UH-3H model is utility configured for logistical support and search and rescue missions. The UH-3H helicopters are manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, the number one helicopter manufacturer in the world, and a subsidiary of the United Technologies Corporation (UTC) family. The UH-3H helicopter, configured for search and rescue, has had all weapon and sonar capabilities removed. The SAR crew, as a minimum, will consist of two pilots, a crewchief, rescue swimmer and a corpsman acting as in-flight medical technician.
The model UH-3H/VH-3A helicopter is manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, Division of United Technologies, Stratford, Connecticut 06484. The UH-3H is a class IB aircraft, designed for both shore and ship-based operations to provide logistic support and a search and rescue capability as required, and the VH-3A is designed to transport up to 16 VIP passengers. The crew consists of a pilot, copilot, and two utility aircrewman.
Configuration is a single-rotary wing, twin-turbine powered helicopter with emergency amphibious capabilities. The emergency amphibious landing gear is composed of a flying boat-type hull and two outrigger sponsons, into which the dual main landing wheels can retract. A fixed tailwheel is on the aft end of the hull. The fuselage is all-metal, semimonocoque construction and consists of the forward fuselage section, the hull, the aft fuselage section, the tail cone section, and the pylon.
The forward fuselage section and hull consist of the pilot compartment, engine compartment, transmission compartment, cabin, and fuel tanks. The electronics-radio compartment is in the forward portion of the hull. Above the electronics-radio compartment and forward of the cabin, is the pilot compartment that is entered from the cabin. The engine compartment is above the forward portion of the cabin. The helicopter is powered by two General Electric T58-GE-402 axial flow gas turbine engines of the turboshaft type. Both turbine engines are mounted side by side in the engine compartment with the engine shafts pointed aft into the main gearbox. Directly aft of the engine compartment is the transmission compartment, housing the main gearbox. The rotary wing assembly, to which the five rotary wing blades are attached, is splined to the main gearbox drive shaft. Shafting extends aft from the main gearbox lower housing to the intermediate and tail gearboxes to drive the tail rotor. Directly below the engine and transmission compartments is the cabin.
The UH-3H cabin is 19 feet 3 inches long, 6 feet 6 inches wide, and 5 feet 10 inches high. The cabin may be entered either through the sliding cabin door on the right aft side of the cabin or through a hinged personnel door on the left side of the cabin. Entrance to the pilot compartment is through the cabin.
The aft fuselage section and the tailcone section extend aft from the rear cabin bulkhead. The tail pylon is attached to the rear of the tailcone. A horizontal stabilizer is installed on the upper right-hand side of the pylon. The intermediate gearbox is installed in the lower portion of the pylon with a shaft extending upward to the rotary rudder gearbox at the top of the pylon. The five-bladed rotary rudder is splined to the rotary rudder gearbox. To permit storing on an elevator 48 feet 6 inches by 17 feet 8 inches, the five rotary wing blades are folded parallel to the fuselage and the pylon is folded forward along the right side of the tail cone.
The helicopter is capable of airspeeds up to 120 KIAS. Endurance will vary between 3-1/2 and 5-1/2 (VH-3A is 3-1/2 to 4-1/2) hours depending upon model aircraft and time spent hovering. Fuel consumption is approximately 1,200 pph in all flight regimes. The maximum gross weight that is the maximum allowable weight of the helicopter, including all its contents is 21,000 pounds for the UH-3H and 19,100 pounds for the VH-3A. For most forward cg loading of 258.0, the load upon the tailgear is 11 percent of the gross weight. For most aft cg of 276.0, the load upon the tailgear is 18 percent of the gross weight while each main gear supports 41 percent of the gross weight. These wheel reaction loads are based on a static condition in a level attitude.
The maintenance requirements of NASP SAR's UH-3H helicopters are performed by Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, one of world's largest manufacturers of rotary wing aircraft. The mission of SSSI is to provide the highest quality management, aircraft maintenance, aircraft modifications and technical services available. To accomplish this mission Sikorsky maintenance personnel work closely with the SAR squadron.
The UH-3H utility version of the Sea King helicopter provides executive transportation in Naples, Italy for Commander Sixth Fleet; Manama Bahrain for Commander Fifth Fleet; and in Norfolk, Virginia on board USS MOUNT WHITNEY for Commander Second Fleet. These UH-3H helicopters also provide logistical support to aviation capable ships participating in fleet operations throughout the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and Arabian Gulf operating areas.
Raytheon Corporation received the first UH-3H to be modified for the executive transport configuration upgrade during 1998. Three others will be upgraded in the next few years, replacing the aging VH-3A aircraft. The UH-3H fleet is receiving the global positioning system receiver integrated through the tactical navigation computer. The system provides visual displays and steering information to navigate anywhere in the world. The UH-3H also received AN/ARC-182 radios to improve communications reliability and interoperability.
The maintenance requirements of NAS Pensacola Helicopter Support Unit's UH-3H helicopters was performed by L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC (L-3 Vertex). L-3 Vertex Aerospace provides aviation and aerospace technical services to the DoD (all branches), Homeland Security, DEA and other government customers. The company has nearly 12,000 employees working from 300 locations worldwide. To accomplish the UH-3H support mission, L-3 Vertex maintenance personnel work closely with the NAS Pensacola Helicopter Support Unit, balancing scheduled and unscheduled maintenance with mission requirements, ensuring NAS Pensacola Helicopter Support Unit met all operational commitments.
NAS Pensacola Helicopter Support Unit conducted weekly hoisting evolutions in the bay just southeast of the base. The training of Navy and Air Force flight students in water survival cause the helicopters to be exposed to the corrosive effects of sea water for much greater periods of time than would occur in normal operations. Frequent washings and preventive maintenance actions kept the UH-3H helicopters at optimum performance levels.
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