The airfield at HMAS Albatross was abuzz with activity late last week when three Seahawk helicopters and 84 personnel from 816 Squadron left for Western Australia to participate in TAMEX, a joint maritime training exercise in anti-submarine warfare.
Transport for 816 Squadron was provided by three Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemasters. The huge transport aircraft streamlined the process of relocating the three helicopters, 20 aircrew and 64 maintenance personnel required for the four week exercise. While it would take three days and up to twenty hours flying for a helicopter to get from Nowra to Perth, the C-17s will deliver the helicopters and crew in just over four hours.
Two RAAF AP-3C Orions from 92 Wing, one United States Navy P-8A Poseidon and the three Navy Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters will be participating in the exercise, in hot pursuit of a Collins Class submarine.
816 Commanding Officer, Commander (CMDR) Marc Pavillard RAN said TAMEX provides valuable experience for 816 Squadron.
“Over the four weeks, each of the Seahawks is expected to fly over 100 hours and conduct around 32 missions.
“Exercises like TAMEX allow us to develop, verify and refine our tactics, techniques and procedures for our primary role of anti-submarine warfare.
“It’s also an opportunity to work closely with the Air Force, both during the transit, with C-17 strategic lift support, and with our maritime counterparts operating the P3 Orion and P8 Poseidon. The exercise provides valuable training for our submarine force too.” said Commander Pavillard.
The Seahawk’s impressive navigation, communication and sensor suites make it a formidable helicopter in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
Seahawks have been continuously embarked in Royal Australian Navy warships on duty in the Middle East since commissioning in 1992. Recent achievements on deployment to the Middle East include playing a major role in drug interceptions off the coast of Africa and anti-piracy activities in the Arabian Sea.
The Seahawk's versatility has also been put to vital use 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.