Unit History: RAF Portrush
Portrush became the home of 1105 MCU on the 2nd March 1964, after the original 1105 MCU at Porthcawl was disbanded in 1957.
The MCU was formed from the RAF launches that had been operating from the Royal Naval base in Londonderry, in support of the naval training base then stationed there.
Portrush was also to have the flagship of the RAFs small fleet of vessels allocated to it, which was Her Majestys Royal Air Force Vessel Seal.
HMAFV Seal had been specially designed for the RAF, and was designated as a LRRSC (Long Range Recovery and Support Craft) so as to carry out quite a number of tasks that the RAF needed with the introduction of more modern aircraft. Seal was 120ft long, and was manned by a crew of 18, she had been across the Atlantic to work in the Bahamas on a torpedo recovery exercise with the US forces.
Portrush had an official Paying-Off ceremony for the final two larger vessels (Seal and HMAFV 2757, which is now on display at the RAF Museum at Hendon) on the 4th march 1971. The band of the RAF Regiment attended the ceremony to provide the musical part of the ceremony, which was attended by several high ranking RAF .
Amongs these officers were the Director of Marine Craft, Grp/Cpt Beamish, Grp/Cpt Saunders, the CO RAF Ballykelly, and the officer taking the salute was the Air Commander Northern Maritime Region Air Vice marshall Wakeford, who was accompanied by his wife.
A fuller report of this ceremony, along with the list of men that were leaving to join other units, is to be found in a copy of the Royal Air Force Marine Craft News Letter No15, dated June 1971. which can be obtained from the RAF Museum.
The RN base in Londonderry was named HMS Sea Eagle, which was a joint services Anti-Submarine School. This base is down as being opened in late June 1947, and believe closed as a naval base in late June 1970, with the RAF Marine Branch Detachment leaving prior to this date to set up the new base in Portrush Harbour.
David L Wilkinson, ex Motor Boat Crewman