An era of crew support draws to a close

Published on LEUT Alan Clarke (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Frigate Helicopter (FFH)

The FFH Support Team at the BAE Henderson Dockyard. (photo: )
The FFH Support Team at the BAE Henderson Dockyard.

With Anzac class frigates having recently completed their Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrades, the Fast-Frigate Helicopter Support Team’s mission of supporting crews and vessels during the program will be coming to a close in December.

The Team was stood up in December 2010 to provide support for vessels in extended readiness with no crews attached to the platform.

Officer in Charge Lieutenant Commander Peter Clark said that during its existence, it had evolved to a position where they could provide a service to both incoming and outgoing crews during upgrades.

“While it is unfortunate that the Team is disbanding, it has managed to develop a mature process that can be used in the future to support vessels and crews undergoing Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program,” Lieutenant Commander Clark said.

“Initially their role was to conduct maintenance on HMAS Arunta and HMAS Anzac while they were in extended readiness alongside HMAS Stirling.

“This evolved into platform transfers commencing with Anzac and HMAS Stuart in 2011 and the subsequent return of Anzac into Extended Readiness 2012.

“Fast-Frigate Helicopter Support Team was involved in preparing both Arunta and Anzac for docking as they entered for their respective upgrades.

“The role was wide and varied as the upgrades continued and evolved to assisting with the transfer of crews and artefacts between platforms as they entered and exited the upgrade program. 

“Along with these platform transfers the team was involved in the standing up of equipment and personnel required to reactivate HMAS Toowoomba,” he said.

In the seven years of its existence, Fast-Frigate Helicopter Support Team administered 10 platform transfers, saw seven platforms through the upgrade program, taken custody of a platforms’ artefacts as it entered ‘Docking Selected Refit Availability’ and another as it entered Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program.

The frigates will now undergo Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program which will involve the upgrading of a number of key systems on-board including the communications and long-range air search radar capabilities and the engineering plant.