The Royal Australian Navy’s developing Romeo capability has achieved another significant milestone with the first ab-initio Pilots and Aviation Warfare Officers (AvWO) graduating recently from MH-60R Operational Flying Training (OFT) Course Number One in Jacksonville, Florida.
The course included an in-depth conversion phase followed by warfare training with Maritime Strike Squadron 40 (HSM-40).
The HSM-40 training was 36 weeks in duration and encompassed all of the skill sets required to make new Romeo aircrew 'Fleet Ready'. Specific elements of the course included general flying and emergency handling, embarked operations, Anti-Surface and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations.
A course highlight for the two graduating pilots was the chance to conduct Day and Night Deck Landings aboard the Ticonderoga Class Cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), an exciting and rare opportunity for Australian aircrew.
One of the recent graduates, Lieutenant Benjamin Thomson was particularly grateful for the opportunity to gain valuable platform specific corporate knowledge from the United States Navy (USN).
“One of the many great aspects of the USN provided training is the depth of corporate knowledge we've been able to take advantage of over the last nine months,” he said.
“That corporate knowledge which the US has gained over a number of years operating this platform has been available to us from day one.
For the two graduates in the AvWO stream, the distinct course highlight came late in the training syllabus with the chance to coordinate multiple aircraft and sensor sets in the prosecution of ASW targets with the new Mk54 Airborne Lightweight Torpedo.
When reviewing her personal experience from the tactics phase, Lieutenant Trine Themsen spoke of the Romeo’s advanced capabilities with enthusiasm.
The Mk54 torpedo combined with the Romeo's advanced system capabilities, is both extremely exciting and at the forefront of airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare.
“The next challenge will be to return to Australia to develop and progress our skills within our own warfare community.”
All four of the graduates agreed that operating within the USN construct was both a personally and professionally broadening experience.
Students of OFT One graduated alongside four of their USN counterparts in a customary Zero Tension Release ceremony. As USN tradition dictates, the Executive Officer of NUSQN 725, Lieutenant Commander Todd Glynn, was on hand to 'claim' the RAN graduates from HSM-40, removing their existing patches and replacing them with NUSQN 725 unit insignia.