Despite a history of flying different aircraft and a series of frequent moves to bases throughout the Atlantic, search and rescue has been the role of 103 Search and Rescue (SAR) Squadron since it began in 1947.
Today, 103 SAR Squadron is charged with providing a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year search and rescue capability to the Halifax Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC). The Squadron is responsible for a massive area, covering the lower Arctic, the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador and all offshore waters in the region.
Considering that the number of SAR cases in the Newfoundland Region, which are actual distress cases, is twice the national average, 103 Squadron is kept very busy.
Given 103's proximity to major fishing grounds and shipping routes, it isn't surprising that the majority of its missions are marine-based. SAR crews routinely find vessels in distress, overdue boats and sick or injured seamen. Crews can easily find themselves nearly 200 miles offshore and with the introduction of Hibernia, a refuelling site at an oil production platform, the potential to go even further out to sea has proven very much a reality.
"Outcasts," the name affectionately given to the personnel of 103 SAR Squadron, perform a variety of tasks to keep the Squadron up and running, including flying the helicopters, maintaining and servicing the Aircraft as well as administering and supporting the Squadron.
Its approximately fifty military personnel and twenty-six civilian employees operate three CH-149 Cormorant helicopters.
The CH-149 Cormorant can carry 12 stretchers or a load of 5,000 kg. Its ice protection system allows it to operate in continuous icing conditions. The Cormorant routinely conducts rescues that would have been impossible for it's predecessor, the CH-113 Labrador.
In the 1960s, the Squadron purchased Albert, a rescue dog, from a barber in Nova Scotia. Today he adorns the Squadron's badge. His goal is the same as those who serve at 9 Wing, whether on the ground or in the air: To "seek and save."
The complete squadron history can be found on the Department of National Defence's Directorate of History and Heritage webpage.
103 Search and Rescue Squadron
9 Wing Gander
PO Box 6000
Gander, Newfoundland A1V 1X1