NUSHIP Canberra aviation team prepares to be first of class

Published on LEUT Emily Kennedy (author), CMDR Paul Moggach (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02)

Members of NUSHIP Canberra and HMS Illustrious' Air Departments in the Flying Control room of HMS Illustrious. (photo: CMDR Paul Moggach)
Members of NUSHIP Canberra and HMS Illustrious' Air Departments in the Flying Control room of HMS Illustrious.

The Air Department in the Royal Australian Navy’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship, NUSHIP Canberra, has taken another step towards achieving operational capability following a period with the Royal Navy (RN) developing multi-spot helicopter operating procedures.

NUSHIP Canberra’s Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach, Lieutenant Commander Flying, LCDR Paul Hannigan, Deputy Lieutenant Commander Flying, Lieutenant Matt Schroder and the Senior Air Traffic Control Officer, Squadron Leader Mark Rowe conducted a two phase visit to the RN which took Canberra another step closer to being ready for next year’s First of Class Flight Trials.

The first phase involved a week at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton where the teams examined the theory and courseware used to qualify Flying Control (FLYCO) personnel in safely and effectively controlling multiple aircraft to multi-spot ships. Royal Australian Navy’s Training Authority – Aviation’s training developer Lieutenant Commander Lucito Irlandez accompanied the group during this phase to help develop the RAN’s first LHD FLYCO training program which will be used to train the FLYCO team in the RAN’s second LHD, NUSHIP Adelaide.

The Canberra team then embarked in the RN helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious for ten days as part of the United Kingdom’s Response Force Task Group’s Cougar 13 deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. The timing of the trip coincided with amphibious operations during Exercise ALBANIAN LION - a two week major exercise conducted around Albania’s Vlorë Bay. The exercise involved seven ships, 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, Royal Artillery and aircraft from the Navy, Army Air Corps and Royal Air Force. The exercise commenced with an amphibious raid and culminated in a non-combatant evacuation operation.

Commander Moggach said that this was a highly valuable experience.

“The embarkation of both Army and Navy helicopters gave us a great view of the challenges of conducting amphibious aviation, particularly when overlaid against the movement of landing craft in a dynamic operating environment,” said Commander Moggach.

“A key element of the visit to Illustrious was to provide a level of education in FLYCO operations to enable our team to be authorised to commence at sea aviation operations during the First of Class Flight Trials in 2014.

“As the Canberra class’ air operations and procedures will be adapted for the RAN based on the RN framework, the opportunity to witness a variety of aircraft operations including launch, recovery, deck movements and emergency procedures greatly aided the development of Canberra’s own procedures,” he said.

Canberra’s Lieutenant Commander Flying, LCDR Paul Hannigan said that the work being undertaken now is the baseline for the next 30 years.

“Our Air Department faces the complex task of developing and testing the operating procedures that will be the standard for aviation operations for the life of the RAN’s two Canberra class LHDs,” said Lieutenant Commander Hannigan.

Canberra is now well placed to meet all airworthiness and operational training requirements that will lead to aviation operations commencing in 2014,” he said.

Two Canberra class LHDs are being built for Navy and will provide the Australian Defence Force with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.

These 27,000 tonne ships will be able to land a force of over 2000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.

NUSHIP Canberra (LHD 02) will be the first to come into service and is due to commission in the first quarter of next year. The second LHD, Adelaide, is scheduled to commission in 2015.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at