Mission possible for Navy pilot

Published on LCDR Stewart Mathies (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, S-70B-2 Seahawk, HMAS Arunta (F151), Drug Interdiction, Counter-piracy, Counter-terrorism, Deployment

Helicopter pilot Lieutenant Caleb Muggeridge stands on the flight deck before HMAS Arunta's S-70B Seahawk while on patrol in the Middle East Region. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Helicopter pilot Lieutenant Caleb Muggeridge stands on the flight deck before HMAS Arunta's S-70B Seahawk while on patrol in the Middle East Region.

Getting the best out of working with metals needed a new perspective when a professional tradesman swapped his tools for the controls of a Navy helicopter.

Navy Seahawk helicopter pilot Lieutenant Caleb Muggeridge has enjoyed the transition from workshop to warship.

Currently embarked in HMAS Arunta, serving as part of Navy’s contribution to Operation MANITOU in the Middle East, his new mission is to counter terrorism and promote maritime security.
 
The Launceston Church Grammar School graduate completed a fitting and machining trade at Cadbury, Hobart before he decided to pursue a long-held dream to join the Navy as a pilot in 2009.
 
“I have always been interested in aviation but after realising that I had the pre-requisites to join as a pilot I decided to give it a crack and have found it to be a hugely challenging but rewarding journey,” Lieutenant Muggeridge said.
 
The training included six months of officer training in 2009, then four years of flight training and other warfare related courses.
 
The flight training involved about 200 hours of fixed flying training on CT4B trainer and PC-9 advanced trainer aircraft followed by transition to Squirrel and Bell 429 helicopters, and finally 12 months of operational flight training on the S-70B-2 Seahawk.
 
The S-70B-2 has been the Navy’s primary anti-submarine helicopter for the past 20 years.
 
“I have had some amazing experiences,” Lieutenant Muggeridge said.
 
“Doing things like exercising with our own submarines many miles out to sea, at night flying on night vision goggles, or carrying film crews for the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review in Sydney with numerous foreign warships filling Sydney Harbour,” he said.
 
Arunta 
deployed in November 2016 from Garden Island, Rockingham, Western Australia.  Arunta is the 64th Australian Navy ship to be deployed to the region since 1990.