Romeo capability continues to expand

Published on LEUT Mark Flowerdew (author), LCDR Stephan Immerz (photographer)

Location(s): Jacksonville, FL, USA

Topic(s): MH-60R Seahawk, 725 Squadron

The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk Romeo aircraft 3 and 4 arrive at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. (photo: LCDR Stephan Immerz)
The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk Romeo aircraft 3 and 4 arrive at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

Delivery of the Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk Romeo capability took another step forward recently, with the arrival of aircraft three and four.

Crewed by joint RAN and United States Navy aircrews, the new aircraft departed the Lockheed Martin Assembly Plant in Owego, New York and made the long journey south to Jacksonville, Florida where they were warmly greeted by NUSQN 725.

“It’s great to welcome two new aircraft to the RAN family. We can’t wait to introduce them to Jacksonville and later in the year, to the Fleet Air Arm back in Australia,” said Commanding Officer NUSQN 725, Commander David Frost.

“So far, we’ve flown more than 100 hours in aircraft one and two, and we look forward to having the new kids on the block taking some of the load.”

Another bunch of aviation maintainers and aircrew also arrived in Jacksonville, bringing the total number of Fleet Air Arm personnel working in Jacksonville to 95, with the final eight aircrew due to arrive over the next few months.

The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk Romeo aircraft 3 and 4 arrive at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk Romeo aircraft 3 and 4 arrive at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

Maintenance technicians will continue to undergo training at Centre of Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU), Naval Air Station Jacksonville, while aircrew will be trained by Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40 (HSM-40), across the river at Naval Station Mayport.

Complementing the new arrivals was the arrival of a maintenance training device dubbed the ‘BROMEO’, which Commander Frost said would be used by maintenance sailors to conduct task book and journal progression.

“The Bromeo is a complete, functioning aircraft that will be used to train sailors who are undergoing initial trade training at NUSQN 725. It will also be used to conduct annual escape training and Operational Flying Training ground familiarisation events.”

“Finding opportunities to get hands on training on in-service aircraft can be challenging due to flying and operational commitments, so having the Bromeo will expedite training and will be cost effective,” Commander Frost said.

Although it will not return to flying status, the Bromeo will be painted in the Royal Australian Navy’s colours and will be subject to the airworthiness and maintenance requirements that the fleet of new MH-60R aircraft are required to meet.

The Bromeo is built from an SH-60B (Bravo) helicopter airframe, similar to those operated by 816 SQN, and was re-manufactured into an MH-60R as a prototype, prior to the final design decision by the United States Navy.

The NUSQN 725 airframe was resurrected from the US Navy’s Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Centre (AMARC), otherwise known as the ‘Boneyard’, where it was selected from a number of Bromeo airframes which were retired from service.

NUSQN 725 personnel, the Bromeo, and five Romeo aircraft will return to Australia in late 2014 to form part of the MH-60R schoolhouse, currently under construction at HMAS Albatross.