423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron

QUAERIMUS ET PETIMUS (We search and strike) Significance: The bald eagle is a powerful bird of prey from the Canadian side of the Atlantic. The motto refers to the squadron’s original role as a coastal unit responsible for anti-submarine warfare.

423 Maritime Helicopter (MH) Squadron is Canada’s operational Maritime Helicopter Squadron on the east coast. Based at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, the squadron is home to CH-148 Cyclone helicopters and readily deploys helicopter air detachments (HELAIRDETs) that embark on Royal Canadian Navy warships. On an ongoing basis, 423 MH Squadron conducts advanced force generation activities both ashore and at sea, in order to prepare maritime helicopter aircrew and maintenance personnel to deploy at a moment’s notice in support of international or domestic operations.

Internationally, the squadron supports the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in operations around the world. During operations abroad, the Cyclone conducts tasks including surface and subsurface surveillance, maritime interdiction operations, and humanitarian relief delivery. Recently, 423 MH Squadron HELAIRDETs have deployed on notable missions abroad, including:

  • Op REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean Sea in support of Canada’s NATO allies;
  • Op ARTEMIS in the Arabian Sea to carry out counter-terrorism operations;
  • Op CARIBBE in the Caribbean Sea to counter illegal trafficking in the region;

Regardless of the theatre of operations, 423 MH Squadron aims to be the most versatile, responsive, and operationally-focused squadron in the RCAF.

423 Squadron was established during the Second World War as a Coastal Command General Reconnaissance squadron whose primary task was contributing to the security of the North Atlantic convoy routes during the Battle of the Atlantic. It was ordered to form in Oban, Scotland, on May 18, 1942, operating the Sunderland flying boat. In late 1942, the squadron was relocated to the Castle Archdale seaplane base in Northern Ireland. During the squadron’s time at Castle Archdale, its crews were involved in several notable U-Boat actions. In 1945, the Squadron was reassigned to a transport role and flew Consolidated Liberator aircraft out of Bassingbourn, England for a short period prior to being disbanded in September of 1945.

As the Cold War got underway, 423 Squadron was reactivated in June 1953 in St. Hubert, Quebec, as an All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron, flying the CF-100 Canuck. The Squadron was transferred to 2 (F) Wing Grostenquin, France, in 1957, where it remained until the Squadron was disbanded for the second time in December 1962.

In September of 1974, 423 Squadron was again reactivated to fly CH-124 Sea King helicopters in the Squadron's original role, serving as one of the two ASW squadrons at CFB Shearwater at the time. January 26, 2018, was the last operational flight of the CH-124 Sea King for the east coast as the Squadron transitioned to the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.

423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron
PO Box 99000 Stn Forces
Halifax NS B3K 5X5

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