The delivery of the third and fourth MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters to NUSQN 725 in late February was an especially memorable occasion for the four Aircrew members who took delivery of them at Lockheed Martin’s factory in Owego, New York and delivered them to NUSQN 725’s temporary base in Jacksonville, Florida.
The two new Romeo’s effectively doubled the number of MH-60R helicopters in service with the Royal Australian Navy.
Taking part in the delivery were Pilots, Lieutenant Warren Oates and Lieutenant Stephen McConville, and Aircrewmen, Petty Officer Glen Watson and Leading Seaman Eammon O’Brien.
“After taking part in the final flight of the Sea King with 817 SQN, it was a privilege to be involved with the first flight and delivery of a brand new Australian MH-60R," Lieutenant McConville said.
Following a tour of the Lockheed Martin factory, the NUSQN 725 personnel performed the tradition of signing the Squadron crest, prior to taking delivery of the aircraft.
For all the employees of Lockheed Martin, this small ceremony commemorated the success of delivering another aircraft to their customers. Speaking at the time of the signing, Lieutenant Oates remarked on “the dedication and hard work shown by Lockheed Martin personnel in Owego and their contribution to the introduction of the MH-60R capability to the Royal Australian Navy.”
The aircraft departed in formation, alongside a third aircraft being delivered to the United States Navy. Despite adverse weather conditions, ranging from snow storms during the departure from Owego and in Pennsylvania, through to heavy rain in North and South Carolina, the aircraft arrived successfully at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville to begin the acceptance process and induction into the Royal Australian Navy.
“It was an awesome experience to be able to pick up one of our new aircraft from the Lockheed Martin factory. Seeing where they’re built, and being able to personally thank those who work on these impressive machines was a very rewarding experience,” Petty Officer Watson said.
“Flying the new aircraft back from Owego was also an awesome experience and one I’ll never forget," he said.
The addition of these two more aircraft will enable NUSQN 725 to stagger the workload and maintenance requirements across four helicopters and build valuable flying experience for those who will be eventually instructing and operating the aircraft from HMAS Albatross next year. Until then, the aircraft will be put to good use at NAS Jacksonville.