Defence Industry supports Navy helicopters on bushfire operations

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), ABIS Leo Baumgartner (photographer)

Location(s): RAAF Base, Williamtown, NSW

Topic(s): 723 Squadron, EC-135T2, Bushfires

Boeing qualified flying instructors Mr Daniel Mearns, left, and Mr James Scott prepare to depart from Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Newcastle, to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales. (photo: ABIS Leo Baumgartner)
Boeing qualified flying instructors Mr Daniel Mearns, left, and Mr James Scott prepare to depart from Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Newcastle, to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales.

Defence Industry is working hand-in-hand with the Royal Australian Navy to support firefighting efforts throughout New South Wales during one of the most dangerous bushfire weeks the nation has ever seen.

Two qualified flying instructors from 723 Squadron delivered an EC-135 helicopter to RAAF Base Williamtown on Wednesday.

Mr James Scott and Mr Daniel Mearns work for Boeing Defence Australia delivering joint helicopter training to Navy and Army aircrew, normally based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, NSW.

“We both readily volunteered to support the bushfire operations and jumped at the opportunity to fly the EC-135 helicopter up to Newcastle,” Mr Scott said.

“Our role is to provide seamless maintenance and aircrew support to the Navy.

“When we were developing the flight plan for the trip there were a number of spot fires between Nowra and Newcastle but once we were in the air the wind had blown most of the smoke haze away.

The EC-135 helicopter was immediately put to task conducting fire assessments around the Coffs Harbour district throughout the day.

Executive Officer 723 Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Gavin Johnston explained how the squadron delivers a significant capability for rotary wing aircrew training in Australia.

“723 Squadron is the home of the Joint Helicopter School which provides basic helicopter training for Navy and Army’s next generation of helicopter crews,” Lieutenant Commander Johnston said.

“Taking part in operations such as the firefighting efforts in NSW give our newly qualified crews an opportunity to consolidate the skills and knowledge that they have gained during training.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is working with Emergency Management Australia to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Queensland.

Imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20192970.

Visit the Defence News website for the latest information on Australian Defence Force support for the firefighting effort against the New South Wales and Queensland bushfires.