Engineers prove up to the challenge on board Navy's largest warship

Published on SBLT Joseph Melbin (author), LSIS Christopher Szumlanski (photographer)

Topic(s): MH-60R Seahawk, HMAS Adelaide (L01)

Able Seaman Marine Technician Scott Soeberg conducts routine checks in the engineering spaces aboard HMAS Adelaide. (photo: LSIS Christopher Szumlanski)
Able Seaman Marine Technician Scott Soeberg conducts routine checks in the engineering spaces aboard HMAS Adelaide.

As HMAS Adelaide moved towards conclusion of First of Class Flight Trials off the coast of Queensland, her 130-strong engineering team had reason to look proudly back at their achievements during the challenging maintenance period that preceded the trials.

The trials are designed to determine the safe operating limits of MH-60R helicopters on the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) platform in a range of sea states and wind speeds both day and night.

During the trials the Engineering Division continued to maintain and operate Adelaide’s complex engineering plant, aviation facilities and combat system to support the mission.

However, it was Adelaide’s scheduled External Maintenance Period (EMP) earlier in the year that set the team up for success, according to Refit Liaison Officer Lieutenant Mark Lawley.

“With 299 planned maintenance jobs completed, 275 defects rectified and 10 engineering changes implemented, the EMP was an enriching and engaging experience,” Lieutenant Lawley said.

“During this time there were no significant safety incidents, which is a significant achievement considering the complex and large nature of the work done,” he said.

The EMP saw pre-production, production, basin trial and post-production conducted for a total of 60 days.

Lawley said major engineering tasks had included maintenance of the Gas Turbine exhaust, an upgrade of the Advanced Stabilised Glide Slope Indicator (ASGSI), recovery of Adelaide’s flight deck lighting, progression of the Nulka Upgrade preparatory work and surveillance radar maintenance, and a new set-top box upgrade.

Since completion of the EMP and subsequent conduct of a successful trial alongside of her engineering plant, Adelaide assumed duties as the Royal Australian Navy’s High Readiness Support Vessel, which allows the Government an immediate response option to provide humanitarian aid either domestically or to regional partners.

The year had already started at a high tempo for the Engineering Department, when it was recalled in early January to make the ship ready to sail to provide aid and assistance during this year’s devastating bushfires.

Adelaide was tasked as part of Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 2019-20, during which time she provided aid by delivering medical and logistic support and was utilised as a launching and recovery platform for aviation support.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Scott Soeberg conducts routine checks in the engineering spaces aboard HMAS Adelaide.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Scott Soeberg conducts routine checks in the engineering spaces aboard HMAS Adelaide.