Sixty missile counter measure flares erupted from the belly of HMAS Melbourne’s S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, marking 1000 hours in the Seahawk cockpit for Flight 3 Flight Commander, Lieutenant Commander Helen Anderson.
Reflected by azure waters in the Gulf of Aden, the spectacular display was watched with enthusiasm by HMAS Melbourne Ship’s Company, who gathered on the flight deck to share in the recognition of an important career milestone.
Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, Lieutenant Commander Anderson joined the Navy and attended the Australian Defence Force Academy between 1998 and 2000. She completed Basic flying (Observer) training in 2004, before commencing her career flying Seahawk Helicopters.
Lieutenant Commander Anderson has participated in domestic maritime border security operations under Operation RELEX II and flown Seahawk missions as part of Operation QUICKSTEP in Fiji and three times as part of Operation SLIPPER; deploying to the Middle East in 2007, 2012 and now as part of Flight 3 embarked in HMAS Melbourne.
Lieutenant Commander Anderson said achieving 1000 hours in a particular aircraft type is considered a badge of honour for any aviator.
“It represents the dedication, hard work and good times involved in a flying career,” she said.
Embarked in HMAS Melbourne, Lieutenant Commander Anderson is responsible for the overall management of the Aviation Department, including one Seahawk, six aircrew and 10 aircraft maintainers.
She is an integral part of the ship’s warfare planning and is also one of two tactical coordinators (TACCO), responsible for the tactical employment of the aircraft in the conduct of its missions.
In a career spanning 15 years, Lieutenant Commander Anderson said one of the greatest highlights has been her involvement in the recent interception of nine suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia.
Lieutenant Commander Anderson said achieving her 1,000 hours was made even more special being in the Middle East Area of Operations.
“Doing the job I love, surrounded by the professional team of people I have working for me on Flight 3 has made it a very memorable occasion”, she said.
HMAS Melbourne is currently deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation SLIPPER, the Australian Defence Force contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, and is flexibly cross-tasked across maritime security and counter terrorism, counter-piracy and Gulf maritime task forces as part of the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
The guided missile frigate commenced maritime security operations in the area on 24 September 2013 including support to the US-led CMF for the conduct of maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and the waters around the Horn of Africa.
Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132166.