HMAS Melbourne has continued to ‘gather strength’ in 2017 conducting MH60-R ‘Romeo’ Helicopter first of class flight trials.
Whilst off the East coast of Australia, the embarked Romeo, ‘Cobra 09’, was required to land ashore to conduct mission essential calibration of equipment following maintenance.
With the nearest airfield being Lord Howe Island, the decision was made to close to disembark the helicopter ashore there.
Arriving on the morning of 3 February to a spectacular sunrise over the Island, Cobra 09 was launched and flight personnel landed via the ship’s rigid-hulled inflatable boats.
Lieutenant Ryan Brack from the United States Navy, said that it was an amazing experience being able to land ashore on such a pristine island.
“It was an honour to be part of the crew for what was the first time in history, a Romeo visiting Lord Howe Island,” he said.
Lieutenant Brack is currently working with the Navy’s Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit to assist with bringing the Romeo capability online within the Fleet.
Clive Wilson, the Operations Officer from Lord Howe Maritime, was extremely welcoming and ready to lend a hand throughoutMelbourne’s visit, assisting with the transportation of maintainers from the lagoon to Lord Howe Island Airfield.
Mr Wilson, a Lord Howe Island native, noted that Melbourne is the first of its class to visit Lord Howe Island and told the shore party that it was always a pleasure to have Navy people in town.
He was also very happy to welcome back the ship’s Commanding Officer who he had first met in 2006 when Commander Bourne visited the island as Commanding Officer of landing craft, HMAS Brunei.
Melbourne currently has 28 personnel embarked from the Flight Trials Unit, 725 and 816 Squadrons in order to conduct the trials.
These trials will ensure Navy can safely operate the Romeo aircraft from the Adelaide class frigates, and expand Navy’s war-fighting capability.