The Fighting Stallion has wings

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), LSIS Tara Byrne (photographer)

Topic(s): Exercises, MH-60R Seahawk, 816 Squadron, HMAS Toowoomba (F156)

Royal Australian Navy flight deck marshaller Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Adam Hearps guides in the MRH-60R helicopter to conduct a passenger transfer above the flight deck of HMAS Toowoomba. (photo: LSIS Tara Byrne)
Royal Australian Navy flight deck marshaller Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Adam Hearps guides in the MRH-60R helicopter to conduct a passenger transfer above the flight deck of HMAS Toowoomba.

On a glassy East Asian sea, the sight of a Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopter hovering over the flight deck of a modern warship could easily be used as a recruiting image, highlighting the cutting edge capability of today’s Navy.

This sight is an everyday occurrence for the helicopter frigate HMAS Toowoomba and the ship’s embarked Romeo flight from 816 Squadron.

The flight consists of six aircrew, 13 maintainers and an aircraft named ‘Nightmare’, representing a fearsome stallion similar to that depicted in Toowoomba’s ship’s crest.

Lieutenant Commander Joel Cooper, Toowoomba’s Flight Commander, is engaged with aviation activities during Exercise LA PEROUSE in the Indian Ocean. Lieutenant Commander Cooper and most of the flight have operated in multi-national maritime exercises before and bring a wealth of experience to the operations.

“I haven’t operated with the French previously so I’m keen to see how well we can integrate into their task group,” he said.

“So far there’s been little difference to my previous experiences and I enjoy seeing new approaches in the hope of learning new and better ways to do business.” 

Lieutenant Commander Cooper also noted that deployments at sea provide constant opportunities for embarked flights to hone their maritime aviation skills in a range of environments. 

“In the future I know that we will continue to face challenges brought about by operating at sea, but I expect that we will conquer those challenges and continue to provide a highly effective maritime combat helicopter capability to Toowoomba and the fleet,”he said.

Centred on the French-led Charles de Gaulle Carrier Task Group, Exercise LA PEROUSE consists of Toowoomba and the submarine HMAS Collins, along with vessels from France, Japan and the United States.