March has been a busy month for Jervis Bay and surrounding waters with the bay dotted with frigates HMA Ships Newcastle and Anzac, Mine Hunter HMAS Gascoyne, helicopters and the Navy’s newest ship, Landing Helicopter Dock HMAS Canberra.
Anzac achieved Unit Readiness in preparation for her Centenary of Anzac deployment across the globe, while Newcastle conducted Mission Readiness in preparation for her an operational deployment.
Canberra started her First of Class Flight Trials and conducted her first launch and recovery of a helicopter at sea.
Commodore Surface Force Commodore Lee Goddard took the opportunity to visit Canberra in Jervis Bay and said it was exciting to see so many Navy assets working to achieve their required outcomes.
“Standing on the bridge of Canberra it was great to see Jervis Bay so busy with military units working hard to achieve the tasks set before them,” Commodore Goddard said.
“Watching helicopters operating from Canberra’s deck was particularly satisfying.
“At one point Canberra was conducting helicopter operations while launching and recovering her landing craft from the stern door – you could really see the start of the capability coming together,” he said.
Canberra departed Jervis Bay to conduct hot weather trials off the coast of Townsville before she will proceed south in April for cold weather flight trials off Tasmania.
Commanding Officer HMAS Canberra Captain Jonathan Sadleir said that the program was progressing well.
“We are working with the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit to provide the conditions they need to set operating limits for the six spot flight deck,” Captain Sadleir said.
“These limits will be used for the life of both Canberra and HMAS Adelaide to ensure various types of helicopters can launch and recover on the flight deck safely."
Canberra has two MRH-90 helicopters from 808 Squadron and one S70B-2 Seahawk helicopter from 816 Squadron and their flight and support personnel embarked for the trials.
“This process has also tested the ship’s ability to embark aircraft and associated personnel along with their equipment for the first time, and while there have been some challenges, the squadrons and the ship continue to work well together to ensure positive outcomes as the trials progress,” said Captain Sadleir.
After the hot and cold weather trials, Canberra will return to Fleet Base East, Sydney, in May before commencing her work up at sea across all her capabilities.