Birdies put on light show for Newcastle’s crew

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author), POIS Ollie Garside (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER, S-70B-2 Seahawk, HMAS Newcastle (F06)

HMAS Newcastle's S-70B-2 Seahawk releases counter measure flares over the Red Sea. (photo: POIS Ollie Garside)
HMAS Newcastle's S-70B-2 Seahawk releases counter measure flares over the Red Sea.

HMAS Newcastle’s S-70B-2 Seahawk Helicopter has lit up the evening sky in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO), while firing its complement of missile counter-measure flares above the Red Sea.

The ship’s company lined the upper decks to watch the helicopter take her position and offload the flares in a crescendo of brilliant orange light during the last fortnight.

Newcastle’s Flight Commander, Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Hattersley said the flares needed to be disposed of because they were nearing the end of their serviceable life.

“The flares we fired are used as a counter-measure to lure missiles away from the helicopter. We may rely on them one day, so we only ever fly with flares that are within their use-by date,” LCDR Hattersley said.

“Out here, the safest way to dispose of out-of-date flares is to fire them, and we knew the crew would enjoy the spectacle.”

Since arriving in the MEAO, Newcastle’s embarked flight has spent more than 100 hours in the air conducting surface search and intelligence gathering sorties, transfer evolutions and training.

Newcastle is in the MEAO as part of Operation SLIPPER - the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement. Her six month deployment represents the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.