|HMAS Perth receives a MH-60R Seahawk helicopter on deck as the first ever frigate to embark the aircraft operationally. ABIS Julianne Cropley RAN photo.|
Following the recent commissioning of 725 Squadron, training the MH-60R Seahawk Romeo, another important milestone was achieved recently with the first Romeo flight permanently embarking in an Australian warship.
HMAS Perth and the first Romeo flight, codenamed ‘Gauntlet’, were reunited off Darwin following their successful pairing during the MH-60R First of Class Flight Trials earlier in the year.
The flight, consisting of six aircrew and thirteen maintenance personnel, had spent the previous week deploying from HMAS Albatross to RAAF Base Darwin, including seventeen flying hours for the aircraft.
Perth’s crew were delighted to see their return, after building a strong rapport with the team earlier in the year. Whilst the majority of flight had conducted the trials, there were a few new members including Lieutenant Ben Thomson, the flight’s junior pilot, who completed his first deck landing in an MH-60R on an Australian warship when the Romeo embarked.
“It is great to be part of the Romeo programme and being part of the first operational flight to go sea is a unique privilege,” Lieutenant Thomson said.
“After a considerable period of trials and training, the team are now ready and really looking forward to integrating fully with the ship’s company and being an integral part of Perth for the foreseeable future.”
The flight also embarked with Qualified Flying Instructor, Lieutenant Commander Todd Glynn, formerly the Executive Officer 725 Squadron, who will qualify the flight aircrew to operate the MH-60R at sea.
After all aircrew are qualified, the focus will shift to integrating the MH-60R capabilities into Perth for Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 15. The helicopters participation in the exercise will be an important stepping stone for the MH-60R achieving Initial Operating Capability at sea in August this year.
Perth will return back to Fleet Base West at the end of July, prior to the ship conducting an extended maintenance period until the end of the year.