On 23 July, 816 Squadron came of age when it celebrated its 21st birthday in the traditional Navy way, with the squadron's Commanding Officer, Commander Grant O'Loughlan, cutting a commemorative cake with its youngest member, Able Seaman Aircraft Technician Avionics Aaron Grow.
ABATV Grow wasn’t even been born when 816 Squadron was commissioned in its current guise, on 23 July 1992, with sixteen S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters.
At the time of the commissioning, two of its helicopters were deployed in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) in HMA Ships Darwin and Canberra. Since then, Seahawks have been continuously embarked in Royal Australian Navy warships on duty in the Middle East.
The primary role of the Seahawk is to provide anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface surveillance capabilities. Its impressive navigation, communication and sensor suites make it a formidable helicopter in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
The Seahawk's versatility has also been put to vital use on occasions when 816 Squadron has been called on to assist with disaster relief and rescue operations, fire bombing during bushfire emergencies and winching people to safety from inaccessible locations and life-threatening situations.
2013 has been a busy year for 816 and turning 21 hasn’t been the only cause for celebration. In March, the Squadron participated in the Avalon Airshow where it was awarded the prestigious Military Concours d’Elegance.
Throughout the year, 816 Squadron has also supported HMAS Watson in a multi-threat surface warfare exercise, participated in other exercises in Woomera and Perth, supported the Darwin V8 supercars and conducted aircrew training in the Northern Territory.