Commissioning is an important historical occasion marking the formal induction of a squadron and its aircraft into the fleet.
The MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ became part of 725 Squadron in a ceremony at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, on 11 June.
Minister for Defence, the Hon Kevin Andrews said the introduction of the Romeo helicopter marked a significant enhancement of the strength of the Fleet Air Arm.
“The MH-60R provides Navy with advanced anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface capabilities through the use of a sophisticated sensor suite, torpedoes and air-to-surface missiles.
“This will increase Navy’s versatility and potency as a high-end fighting force,” Mr Andrews said.
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer said 725 Squadron represented the future of naval aviation.
“The Romeo has already demonstrated great prowess as the maritime combat helicopter of the Royal Australian Navy.
"Now 725 Squadron, and in the future 816 Squadron, will take this very capable aircraft even further and will join with the surface and subsurface elements of the Fleet in forming a networked sea control team.”
The Squadron has its origins in the Royal Navy, where it was formed in 1943 before being disbanded in 1945. It was first formed as a Royal Australian Navy Air Squadron in 1958, and apart from a brief period in 1961/62, served continuously until its last decommissioning in 1975.
Rear Admiral Mayer described 725 Squadron’s history as a “rich and proud one”.
“725 has served our nation in the Vietnam War, the rescue efforts following the Melbourne-Voyager incident in 1964 and clean up efforts after Cyclone Tracy in 1974," he said.
“Those who have served previously have left a remarkable legacy of achievement through courage, determination, skill and tenacity during periods of global turmoil and warfare."
Squadron Commanding Officer Commander David Frost said the Squadron’s past, present and future were all represented at the ceremony.
“We pride ourselves on being a team of highly professional, focused and committed men and women.
“We share these qualities with those who have gone before us and we very much look to carrying on the proud heritage of 725 Squadron.
“It’s an absolute honour that 40 years after the last 725 Squadron de-commissioned, we are joined by original members and Commanding Officers of 725 who set the bar very high,” Commander Frost said.
$3.2 billion dollars have been invested in procuring 24 Seahawk Romeo helicopters for Navy. Eleven aircraft have been accepted into service to date, with the delivery running on budget and ahead of schedule. Commander Frost said he strongly believed that the main reason for the success of the Romeo project was teamwork.
“The Romeo team is a vast collection of people and organisations, and everyone has brought something to the table.
“To the Defence Materiel Organisation, and the Romeo Project Office, your vision, innovation, drive and overall management has provided the strong foundations and framework for this capability. You were there at the beginning and you are still here today along with the Navy Aviation Systems Program Office.
“To the United States Navy and industry, you opened up not only professional doors but went that extra step to open up your homes and hearts.
“The Squadron was formed in Jacksonville Florida nearly two and a half years ago and there is no doubt that we now have the US in our DNA and I can assure everyone here today that southern hospitality is alive and well.
“To the technical mastery of companies like Sikorsky and Lockeed Martin who created this amazing helicopter. You said you would deliver and you certainly have.
“To the families - I am fully aware of the sacrifices you have made and this is your day as much is it is ours.”
Commander Frost’s final message was to his team.
“I gave you a few challenges when we started on this journey. I said that there was no better opportunity to exercise leadership and innovation as we take the lead in introducing the Romeo.
“I told you to set high standards for yourself and your Squadron and live up to those who have gone before us. I’m very proud to say that you have delivered on all fronts and because of your efforts we are well on track to achieve our mission."
Read the history of 725 Squadron on the Navy website at http://www.navy.gov.au/history/squadron-histories/725-squadron-history.