Sea service for Romeo

Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), LSATV Stephen Norwood (photographer)

Topic(s): MH-60R Seahawk, HMAS Toowoomba (F156), Indo-Pacific Endeavour

Able Seaman Air Technical Aircraft Lachlan Jackman inspecting the MH-60R helicopter main rotor gear box during the 1,000th flying hour service.  (photo: LSATV Stephen Norwood)
Able Seaman Air Technical Aircraft Lachlan Jackman inspecting the MH-60R helicopter main rotor gear box during the 1,000th flying hour service.
HMAS Toowoomba’s embarked Seahawk MH-60R helicopter, more colloquially known as a ‘Romeo’, recently completed a deep-level service at sea during her deployment as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour task group.
 
After clocking up 1,000 hours of flying, the helicopter’s maintenance team needed to change all the oils in the gearbox and hydraulic systems took samples of the old oil to be sent away for further analysis and replaced all the filters and o-rings.
 
Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Robert Missingham is a Flight Senior Maintenance Sailor in charge of all technical aspects of the helicopter including the major servicing, ensuring that maintenance is achieved even when the flight is deployed.
 
Chief Petty Officer Missingham said the work could be compared to servicing a family car when it clocked up 10,000 kilometres.
 
However, this was one of the first times one of Navy’s new Romeo helicopter had been given the deep servicing whilst on deployment at sea, with other Romeos having reached the milestone but were serviced ashore.
 
“By doing the servicing at sea we can maintain an airworthy fleet of helicopters with minimum downtime and impact on capability,” Chief Petty Officer Missingham said.
 
“It is also a great opportunity for our maintenance sailors to put their world-class training into practice whilst underway in a warship.”
 
The servicing took three of Toowoomba’s MH-60R maintenance team members eight hours and required extensive use of their skills.
 
Combined with the oil change was the replacement of all the filters and a detailed inspection to ensure there were no contaminants in the filter or old oil.
 
The old oil recovered from the Romeo is stored with all the other oils and lubricants in the ship’s marine engineering department.
 
When Toowoomba returns to her home base in Western Australia the used oil will be collected from the ship by an authorized agent and disposed correctly to minimize any impact on the environment.