The Royal Australian Navy's Seahawk Romeo crews have achieved a significant aviation milestone, passing 1,000 flight hours in the MH-60R aircraft whilst undergoing training in the United States.
The New Squadron 725 (NUSQN 725) team clicked over the achievement without fanfare, but with considerable style, during an exercise flying as a dip gang against a Peruvian Type 209 submarine. With the team's focus remaining on ensuring aircraft on station on time, for 11 sorties over a weekend, the celebrations were on hold until the work was done said Commanding Officer of the squadron, Commander David Frost.
“It’s been another tremendous effort by all to achieve these hours.
“Every sailor and officer of NUSQN 725 should be proud of this milestone and the critical role they play in delivering this significant capability for the Navy and Fleet Air Arm,” he said.
The maintainers charged with preparing the state-of-the-art aircraft have embraced their duties with the knowledge that they are creating a capability that will benefit the Royal Australian Navy for years to come.
Commander Frost elaborated that the team was very focussed on upgrading their skills and working closely with other nations whilst in the USA.
"It's great to see young maintainers and aviators so keen and focussed on warfare training. To launch into a local exercise including six US Navy Romeo squadrons, three P3 and P8 Squadrons, two visiting US Navy Carrier Groups and a live submarine, is an opportunity not lost on any of us,” he said.
Crew member of the 'Romeo', Lieutenant Ben Thomson, said the experience was hard to match.
"In the six months since completing my flying training I have participated in warfare exercises against foreign navy submarines, fired hellfire missiles, launched torpedos, conducted gun engagements against land and surface targets.
"I have had an exposure to warfare capabilities that will provide solid foundations for my future career,” he said.
The pace will not slow either, with an ongoing focus on building skills in parallel with the huge task of returning home to the Naval Air Station in Nowra, NSW before the end of this year.
Over 100 officers and sailors, their families, six aircraft and tonnes of equipment will be saying goodbye to Jacksonville, Florida packing up with the support of the Royal Australian Air Force and a C-17 airlift.
When all the moving parts are back at home plate, the team then will turn its attention to its primary role as a Romeo Training Squadron, passing on their new skills to the future maintainers and operators.
NUSQN 725 will conclude its operations in Jacksonville in December, splitting its people and aircraft between the US and Australia from October, with the first Romeo flight anticipated in November. All people and equipment will be back on Aussie soil, ready to commence operations as a full squadron from early in 2015.