Late last year the best of naval aviation were recognised with a range of new awards reflecting the complexity and capability of the Fleet Air Arm.
Commander Fleet Air Arm Commodore Chris Smallhorn presented the prestigious Partington Shield and four new perpetual awards recognising excellence in the areas of warfare, engineering, technical mastery and safety.
Since 1992, the Partington Shield has been awarded annually in recognition of excellence in the support of naval aviation by both service and civilian personnel at HMAS Albatross.
This award, which honors the legacy of former Albatross Commanding Officer, the late Commodore Robert Partington, was presented to Lieutenant Jodie Turkenberg, Flight Support Officer with 816 Squadron.
Lieutenant Turkenberg said that while she was very proud to receive the honour she felt the recognition should also extend to her team.
“I'm very fortunate to work with an extremely effective Flight Support Team who have worked tirelessly to represent the requirements of the embarked flights, to ensure a seamless transition from S70B-2 Seahawk to the MH60R Romeo,” she said.
“The new Romeo flights are kicking goals and achieving their ship embarkation readiness on time with very few limitations, and the last remaining S70B-2 Seahawk flight is maintaining a high level of output right until the end."
“This job is incredibly rewarding, one of the best I've ever done, and to receive the Partington Shield for something I am so enthusiastic about is very gratifying.”
Presenting the inaugural Fleet Air Arm Excellence awards Commodore Smallhorn noted the exceptionally high standard of nominations.
“My intention in introducing these awards was to formally recognise outstanding service and it was very gratifying to see the range and level of innovation and commitment amongst the nominees,” Commodore Smallhorn said.
These will now be the four premier awards for Fleet Air Arm personnel each year.
Lieutenant Commander Peter Thompson of the Australian Maritime Warfare Centre was the recipient of the Fleet Air Arm Warfare Excellence medal.
This award is presented to an individual who has made the most significant contribution to naval war fighting and is assessed across the following areas: encouragement of a strong warfare ethos, improvement of tactical development, and contribution to operational effectiveness.
The award for Engineering Excellence and Innovation was presented to 816 Squadron’s Flight Support Manager Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics Philip Copley for his contribution to enhancing Fleet Air Arm maritime air power and integration.
“I felt very honoured to receive the award for Engineering Excellence,” Chief Petty Officer Copley said.
“There was a definite sense of achievement in having it personally presented by Commodore Smallhorn himself in front of most of the Air Arm, and it was very rewarding to have that sense of validation and confirmation that my efforts are appreciated,” he said.
The Fleet Air Arm Aviation Technical Mastery Award was presented to Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Gavin Mason for his demonstration of exceptional skills and contribution to Fleet Air Arm resilience and effectiveness as a first class maritime aviation war fighting capability.
Tool Control Trade Supervisor at 808 Squadron, Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Tristan Vercoe, received the Fleet Air Arm Naval Aviation Safety Excellence medal for his work with the Squadron's adopted charity, Lifeline.
Leading Seaman Vercoe said he was both surprised and gratified to receive the recognition.
“The initiative came about through my concern with the level of support for people suffering with mental health issues at sea and my own feelings when trying to help my mates,” Leading Seaman Vercoe said.
“Through Lifeline I arranged for 21 of our members to receive training, in the hope that it would make a difference for someone in the future."
“I now aim to make this program routine for flights so that there are always at least a couple of people within that team who are a little more equipped to recognise and deal with these situations as they arise.”