Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King S-61 "1959"

Role Anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and utility helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
First flight 11 March 1959
Introduction 1961
Retired Retired by United States Navy in 2006
Status In service
Primary users United States Navy (historical)
Produced 1959–1970s
Number built 1,300+
Variants Sikorsky S-61L/N /  Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King
Westland Sea King


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Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King
(company designation S-61)

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Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King
(company designation S-61)

The Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King (company designation S-61) is an American twin-engined anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter designed and built by Sikorsky Aircraft. A landmark design, it was one of the first ASW rotorcraft to use turboshaft engines.[1]

The Sea King has its origins in efforts by the United States Navy as a means of counteracting the growing threat of Soviet submarines during the 1950s. Accordingly, the helicopter was specifically developed to deliver a capable ASW platform; in particular, it combined the roles of hunter and killer, which had previously been carried out by two separate helicopters.

Operational history

The Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King is a twin-engine medium-sized amphibious rotorcraft. Many of the features on board the Sea King represented a considerable advancement over preceding helicopters. In addition to being fully amphibious and capable of operating under all weather conditions, it is the first operational American helicopter to be able to simultaneously hunt and destroy submarines.[5] Its twin-turboshaft powerplant layout gave the SH-3 a higher payload and greater reliability than previous anti-submarine helicopters.[4] In the event of a single engine failing, the Sea King could continue flying on a single engine.[28] The powerplant used on the Sea King was the General Electric T58-GE-8B, which was initially capable of generating up to 1,250 shp (930 kW) each.[5]

In normal operations, the Sea King typically would have a four-man crew on board; these being a pilot and copilot in the cockpit, and two aircrew stationed within the main cabin area

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Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King "1959"

During the 1990s, the Sea King was replaced in the ASW and SAR roles by the U.S. Navy with the newer Sikorsky SH-60 Sea Hawk.[50] However, the SH-3 continued to operate in reserve units in roles including logistical support, search and rescue, and transport. On 27 January 2006, the SH-3 was ceremonially retired at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, by Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 2 (HC-2). They have been replaced by increasingly advanced variants of the SH-60 Sea Hawk.


  • Crew: 2 flight crew + 2 mission crew
  • Capacity: up to 3 pax
  • Length: 54 ft 9 in (16.69 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m)
  • Empty weight: 11,865 lb (5,382 kg)
  • Gross weight: 18,626 lb (8,449 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 22,050 lb (10,002 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines.
  • Maximum speed: 144 kn (166 mph, 267 km/h)
  • Range: 540 nmi (620 mi, 1,000 km)
  • Service ceiling: 14,700 ft (4,500 m)
  • Time to altitude: 1310-2220


  • 2× Mk 46/44 anti-submarine torpedoes (SH-3H)
  • Various sonobuoys and pyrotechnic devices
  • B57 nuclear depth charge

Aircrafttoaal encyclopedia

The Sikorsky S-61L and S-61N are civil variants of the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King military helicopter.