The Royal Australian Navy’s largest vessels, HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide, have presented opportunities to break down stereotypes within the Navy and between services as the platforms reflect true combined capability.
Traditional areas of responsibility are blurred and all parts of ship are working more closely together. One of these unique relationships is that between the aviation and seamanship branches and more specifically between the Flight Control Office and the bridge.
The Flight Control Office is responsible for the execution and safety of all flight deck evolutions involving multiple landing spots and aircraft; they are varied and dynamic and are significantly more complex than a standard flying serial on other warships.
Lieutenant Matthew Smith, an officer-of-the-watch onboard highlighted the importance of working as a team especially as Adelaide recently completed Chinook helicopter trials, in which the aviation and seamanship teams assisted in achieving over 631, CH47F deck landings.
“I think what we found worked well for us as a team is spending time on each other's work spaces, this helps us gain an appreciation for the challenges and constraints that each of us deals with on a daily basis,” Lieutenant Smith said.
“We also chat a lot and often debrief flying serials over a brew."
It is these simple actions that help the aviation and seamanship teams communicate well and get the job done.
Lieutenant Tammielee Hunter, an MRH-90 Pilot onboard Adelaide’s flight, explained that understanding each other’s roles and limitations was essential.
"To ensure the mission is achieved we need to have that depth, it speaks volumes to the professionalism, personalities and culture of the team onboard," she said.
The Flight Control Officer, a Royal Australian Navy aviator takes the lead for the flying operations with support of Air Force Air Traffic Controllers, however, this sophisticated flying program does not succeed without direct liaison with the bridge team.
Throughout a flying serial, the Flight Control Officer and duty officer-of-the-watch are in almost constant communication as the bridge team deconflict and prioritise tasks, talking to Dock Control, the Operations Room and the Central Control Station.
They act as the Commanding Officer’s representative to ensure they meet the requirements of the flying serial - Lieutenant Commander Colin Mcleod is the Deputy Flying Control Officer onboard Adelaide.
“Essentially I conduct an 'orchestra of aviation', which includes aircrew, aviation support, but most importantly the collaborative relationship I have with the officer-of-the-watch," he said.
“We work closely in concert to deliver the aviation effect and project forces ashore. It’s imperative to have a good working relationship, to not only meet Command aims but most importantly to ensure safety, after-all mission first, safety always,” Lieutenant Commander McLeod said.
Lieutenant Melanie Kristensen, is one of the Maritime Warfare Officers who works as an officer-of-the-watch onboard Adelaide and said that the key to success is mutual respect for one another.
“It is important to understand each others roles and search for compromise where possible," she said.
The crew take the ship's motto literally and it has fostered a strong sense of teamwork.
“After all, we are all working on the same side, focused on meeting the same outcomes and be overall 'united for the common good',” Lieutenant Kristensen said.