Commander Australian Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro, recently visited New Squadron 725 (NUSQN 725) in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Commander Fleet Air Arm spent a very busy three days at Jacksonville visiting the Squadron and all the other people and moving parts that make up the Royal Australian Navy’s future Seahawk Romeo helicopter capability.
Addressing the Squadron at a Clear Lower Deck, Commodore Di Pietro highlighted the work that was progressing in Australia in order to prepare for the return of NUSQN 725. He described the eagerness of all those working in Australia to ensure a smooth transition for the newest Squadron into the Royal Australian Navy and commended the efforts of the men and woman in Jacksonville, who represent the future of this great capability. He also took the opportunity to present a number of awards to squadron personnel.
During the visit, Commodore Di Pietro had the opportunity to view aircraft maintenance activities, meet with the Squadron’s personnel, and meet with support staff including Resident Project Team members, onsite Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky representatives and aircrew members undergoing training at the US Navy’s Training Squadron HSM 40.
Whilst at Naval Station Mayport, the Commander of the Australian Fleet Air Arm grabbed the opportunity to fly in the MH-60R Simulator, after observing a mission utilising the Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) and the Hellfire missile systems.
The final day of the visit provided him with a hands-on opportunity to experience the MH-60R airborne. After taking off from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, he was provided a complete demonstration of the capability that the aircraft will deliver. This included Anti Submarine Warfare dipping operations, Hellfire missile simulation and a demonstration of the tactical mission set installed in the aircraft.
Commodore Di Pietro was all smiles as he emerged from the aircraft on completion of the flight.
“The Romeo is a very impressive, highly capable maritime combat helicopter. Its effective operation will rely on highly trained maintainers and aircrew. The dimension of what Romeo will bring to our Fleet is amazing and it has been terrific to have had the opportunity to see it in action,” Commodore Di Pietro said.
“I am very proud of what NUSQN 725 has achieved in Jacksonville and of their efforts in partnership with the project team, the Navy Aviation Systems Project Office (NASPO), HMAS Albatross and the Fleet Air Arm.
“This collective effort is the foundation for many years to come. It is important to realise that Romeo is with us for at least three decades; there are Romeo maintainers and aircrew of the future whose parents have not yet met - so we all need to get this right,” he said.
Commodore Di Pietro will only have to wait another five months to see Royal Australian Navy Seahawk Romeos flying at HMAS Albatross, with the entire Squadron due to return to Australia by the end of this year.