423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron

Squadron Badge

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.


QUAERIMUS ET PETIMUS (We search and strike)

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 equipped with CH-124 Sea King and readily deploys helicopter air detachments (HELAIRDETs) that embark on Royal Canadian Navy warships. In the near future, the Squadron will be transitioning to the new CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.

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 in operations all around the world.  During operations abroad, the Sea King conducts tasks including surface and subsurface surveillance, maritime interdiction operations and the delivery of humanitarian relief. In recent years, 423 Squadron HELAIRDETs have deployed on numerous 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;
  •  Op MOBILE as part of Canada’s contribution to the NATO operation conducted in the aftermath of the popular uprising in Libya in 2011; and
  •  Op HESTIA in Haiti to provide humanitarian relief following a major earthquake in 2010.

Within Canada, the Squadron has conducted numerous domestic operations including assistance to law enforcement during Op SABOT and hurricane relief in Newfoundland on Op LAMA.

Regardless of the theatre of operations, 423 (MH) Squadron aims to be the most versatile, responsive, and operationally-focused squadron in the Royal Canadian Air Force.


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. To this day, 423 (Maritime Helicopter) Squadron continues to operate out of 12 Wing Shearwater, deploying operational CH-124 Sea King Helicopter Air Detachments to sea while preparing for transition to the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.


Contact Information

423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron
P.O. Box 5000 Stn Main
Shearwater, Nova Scotia B0J 3A0