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The Indian Navy on Friday bid adieu to UH-3H helicopter — a versatile platform that has played a crucial role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations — after 17 years of glorious service, officials said.

The de-induction ceremony was held at INS Dega, Visakhapatnam. The event was presided by Vice Admiral Sameer Saxena, Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command. Veteran officers and sailors of the UH3H squadron graced the event with families reminiscing the yeoman service of the helicopter.

The UH-3H helicopter will be replaced by Sea King 42C helicopter at INAS 350 to continue and deliver operational power and capability, a spokesperson of the Navy said in a statement.

The de-induction ceremony of UH-3H helicopter marks the end of a remarkable era that introduced innovative capabilities in special operations and search and rescue (SAR) missions, the officials said.

The operational role of the UH-3H in the constantly evolving and dynamic maritime environment will remain forever etched in the history of the Indian naval aviation, they said.

Brought to the Indian shores in 2007 along with INS Jalashwa, the UH-3H helicopter was inducted into INAS 350 christened ‘Saaras’ on March 24, 2009 at INS Dega, Visakhapatnam, the statement said.

This versatile helicopter played a crucial role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, security of offshore installations and special operations. Its advanced SAR capabilities and logistical support were vital during natural disasters, often making the difference between despair and relief, and saving countless lives, it said.

The mighty ‘Saaras’ adorns the squadron crest embodying the motto ‘Strength, Valour and Perseverance’. The helicopter diligently upheld its commitment, maintaining a vigilant watch, ensuring the security of the nation’s maritime boundaries with unwavering dedication, it said.

As it comes to the end of service life, one UH-3H will be permanently displayed at a prominent location in the ‘City of Destiny’, Visakhapatnam, inspiring future generations, the officials said.

The Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command, handed over a commemorative plaque to the state government on the occasion which was received by K Mayur Ashok, Joint Collector, Visakhapatnam, to mark the transfer of the aircraft.