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EGDP:Lat/Long:503410N/022646W . Grid ref SY682743 .10 feet ASL.
RUNWAY: Concrete 04/22,200x50m.plus approx 30 helicopter landing Spots
Portland,HMS Osprey ,shortly after the Navy departed.
The beginning of Portlands association with Naval Aviation was in 1916,when,on the 26th September,a Royal Naval Air Station was established
in the marshy area known as the Mere on the west side of Portland Harbour.Named HMS Serepta,the station was used by floatplanes(ie; a water aerodrome).Initially four Short Floatplanes were based
there,followed in 1918 by a larger unit with 12 aircraft.Operational flights were made not only by Royal Navy pilots but also by U S Naval personnel...The US NAVY Records Office has the following dated 25th March 1918.....
"Ensign John F. McNamara, flying out of RNAS Portland, England, made the first attack on an enemy submarine by a U.S. Naval Aviator. For his attack, reported by Admiral Sims as "apparently successful," Ensign McNamara was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his "valiant and earnest efforts on this particular occasion."
Following the Armistice in November 1918 the aircraft left and there were no permanent units based until just before the start of WW2 .However RAF flying boats were frequently seen there. The photo below shows three Supermarine Southamptons at anchor.Date not known but probably around 1930.
In September 1939 a Squadron of Swordfish floatplanes arrived and stayed for 10 months.From that time,once again there were no permanent units based until 1946,when the first helicopters appeared in
the shape of Sikorsky R-4Bs,operating from the slipway at the Naval Base.
The success of helicopter operations inevitably led to the need for better and purpose built facilities.During the late 50s the Mere was
filled in creating an area that was concreted over to produce the large helicopter facility that still exists today.On 14th April 1959 the new base became operational with the arrival of a squadron
For the next 40 years Portland RNAS,renamed HMS Osprey on 24th April 1959,was one of the busiest air stations on the south coast,with
helicopter operations taking place 24 hours a day.Image below is of a Portland based Wessex.
However,with the gradual reduction in the size of the armed forces,the Royal Navy eventually pulled out of Portland and the RNAS became
surplus to requirements.This led to the eventual closure in March 1999.
After the departure of the Navy,the site was renamed Osprey Quay,and much of the space given over to small boat use.However part of the
landing area remains in use .A SAR helicopter operated by Bristows for the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) is based there,and in addition,some traffic is generated by oil exploration etc.in the English Channel.In February 2003 it was announced that the SAR Flight will remain here for the foreseeable future.A new hangar has been built for the use of the Flight.However the service was later scheduled for withdrawal in 2017.It was announced in November 2014 that HeliOperations were looking at use of the facility in the near future.
The picture below shows the contracted landing area now in use along with the new hangar for the MCA. Of note is the realignment of the short runway .
Compare with the earlier picture above.
The pictures below are of the AW139 Helicopter based at Portland for the MCA. Also visible is the new hangar .
FLEET AIR ARM UNITS
241SqShort and Wright Floatplanes,Formed 8-18,disbanded 6-19702Sq,Lynx,arr 7-82,dep 1-99
703Sq,Wasp,Reformed 22-1-72,dep 1-81705 Sq,Hoverfly/Dragonfly,detachment from Lee-on -Solent,arr 3-50,dep 7-50
737Sq,Whirlwind,Wessex,Sea King,arr 8-59,dep 2-83771 Sq,detachment arr 9/45,merged with 705Sq 7-5-47
771Sq,Dragonfly,Whirlwind,reformed 11-7-61,disbanded 1-12-64
771Sq,Wasp,Wessex,reformed 1-6-67,dep 4-9-74 to Culdrose
772Sq,Swordfish,formed 9-39,dep7-40772Sq,Wessex,Sea King,reformed 6-9-74,dep 9-95815Sq,Whirlwind,arr 14-4-59,dep 8-59815Sq,Lynx,arr 7-82,dep 2-99
Civilian S.A.R UnitBristow Helicopters operate the Search and Rescue unit here for the MCA .Normally one helicopter is based here.
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