The joint aviation capability embarked in HMAS Adelaide achieved key milestones while deployed to Papua New Guinea during Operation APEC 18 ASSIST.
Eight helicopters from three squadrons embarked to provide logistics, aeromedical, maritime and shore security support as part of Joint Task Force 658.
The helicopters included two MRH-90 Maritime Support Helicopters from Navy’s 808 Squadron, a Seahawk MH-60R ‘Romeo’ from Navy’s 816 Squadron and five MRH-90s from Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment.
Commander of the Aviation Combat Element, Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Martin, said the ship operated at an all-time high tempo for an Australian Navy LHD.
“With six spots on Adelaide’s deck this milestone represents near-peak operating levels,” LTCOL Martin said.
“The aviation elements were a true joint force, with Navy and Army aircrew and maintainers, Air Force air traffic controllers and a Navy deck crew.”
Adelaide’s Commander Air, Commander Stuart Baily, said the ship had to take several steps to prepare for the frequent aviation operations.
“With a requirement to support eight helicopters on the ship, up to six operating at a time and for up to 16 hours a day, Command identified that we would need to enhance the aviation department,” he said.
“Several of our personnel were trained in flight deck procedures, and have been instrumental in the various tasks associated with ensuring safety of crew and aircraft operating on the deck, all while gaining great experience for their naval careers.”
Petty Officer Conor Gray supervised Adelaide’s busy flight deck throughout the operation, and said it was one of his busiest times in recent memory.
“With up to six aircraft on the deck, and the requirement to move aircraft to the hanger by one of two lifts, there is always something happening,” PO Gray said.
“Between refuelling evolutions and loading and unloading the aircraft, there are so many moving parts, but with a professional team, good communication and a dose of humour keep things moving along smoothly.”
APEC 2018 Leaders’ Week wrapped up successfully on 18 November after PNG hosted a year-long program of economic and trade meetings.