Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Published on LCDR Rob Roscoe (author), ABIS Chantell Bianchi (photographer)

An MH 60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopter lands on HMAS Perth while alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Chantell Bianchi)
An MH 60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopter lands on HMAS Perth while alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney.

The future warfighting capability of the Royal Australian Navy took further shape in Sydney Harbour recently as Romeo met the Anti-Ship Missile Defence Upgrade. 

The first of the Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters recently embarked in HMAS Perth alongside the Cruiser Wharf, Garden Island, Sydney. 

The event marked the first time a Royal Australian Navy MH-60R landed on an Australian warship and marked the start of the helicopter’s First Of Class Flight Trials.

The trial period is a crucial part in the introduction into service of the new helicopter; all aspects of the ship, aircraft and equipment interfaces are assessed to develop recommendations for embarked operating envelopes.

The ‘Romeo’ will progressively replace 16 Seahawk ‘Classic’ helicopters, which currently provide Navy’s combat helicopter capability.

The Western Australian based HMAS Perth recently arrived in Sydney and will operating on the East Coast for the next few weeks, conducting the sea trials for the new ‘Romeo’.  

These trials are expected to see ship and helicopter moving between Tasmania and North Queensland, to test the ship and helicopter in a range of weather and climate conditions.

HMAS Perth has recently emerged form an extended maintenance period, where a number of enhancements were made to the ship in support of the new aircraft. 

Perth's Commanding Officer, Captain Ivan Ingham explained the importance of the milestone.

“This moment has taken a lot of hard work from many agencies across the Australian Defence Force to get to this stage and Perth is excited at the prospect of being the first to operate, at sea, with this remarkable new capability," he said.

The ship embarked personnel from the new ‘Romeo’ 725 Squadron and the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit.  The latter are the lead agency for flight testing and certifying all new Navy aircraft.

The trials should complete towards the end of March, when HMAS Perth will return to Fleet Base West to start her Unit Readiness workup and then depart for deployment and exercises within the region.

More images are available at the Navy Image Library http://images.navy.gov.au/S20150217