H-3 Sea Kings are used in a variety of roles by the Royal Navy and RAF, from the transport of Royal Marines (Mk 4, Mk 6CR), to search & rescue (Mk 3/3A and Mk 5), Airborne Early Warning (Mk 7), and classic utility roles. These medium helicopters are known for their ability to float, for their ability to fly though icing conditions, and for stability and fine control. One interesting TV show had a Sea King SAR helicopter maneuver its rescue crewman into position, then hover in place while he poured champagne into a glass that was held steady by the TV host on the ground.
Britain’s Sea Kings have been updated with some frequency, and are projected to remain in service until 2016. Many will be replaced by Agusta-Westland’s Merlin helicopter, a variant of the AW101. Until then, these old helicopters need to be maintained, and the Ministry of Defence needed a way to keep the cost under control. Hence the Sea King Integrated Operational Support program (SKIOS).