New Aviation Support sailors ready to soar

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Air Arm Museum

Graduates of the Aviation Support (AVN) 01/14 Course in front of a Sea King helicopter at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

AVN sailors are specialists who will support the enhanced aviation capability of the two Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships entering service with the RAN in 2014 and 2015. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Graduates of the Aviation Support (AVN) 01/14 Course in front of a Sea King helicopter at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. AVN sailors are specialists who will support the enhanced aviation capability of the two Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships entering service with the RAN in 2014 and 2015.

What does a group of people consisting of former Navy Chefs, Stewards, Marine Technicians and Boatswains, an ex-Army Dental Hygienist and an ex-Army Artillery soldier have in common? They all have an exciting future in aviation ahead of them.
 
These twelve members of this group are the newest Training Authority - Aviation graduates in the Aviation Support Category (AVN).
 
Senior Instructor, Chief Petty Officer Pete Cessar said the group would bring a diverse range of experience to the category.
 
“The main thing that attracts people to the Aviation Support Category is the opportunity to work in one of the most professional organisations in the Navy, which is the Fleet Air Arm.”
 
“It’s also an opportunity to work outdoors, in physically and mentally demanding roles, supporting aviation at sea and ashore,” Chief Petty Officer Cessar said.
 
The AVN Category was formed in 2011 to meet the capability demands of the Canberra Class Amphibious Assault Ship, also known as a Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), which will provide the Australian Defence Force with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.
 
AVN graduates will make up the Flight Deck and Hangar Aircraft Movements Team and will serve as Aircraft Crash Rescue personnel in each of the two LHDs. There will be 23 AVNs posted to each ship.
 
Chief Petty Officer Cassar said the most exacting aspect of the 12 week course was the final assessment.
 
“This consolidates all of the student’s training into several concurrent flight deck emergency scenarios. They have to work together as a team and deal with multiple emergency situations and scenarios, designed to test their abilities as AVNs,” he said.
 
Seaman Callum Watts and Able Seaman Adam Emmerton are good examples of the diversity of the graduates. Twenty-year-old Seaman Watts has served just 11 months in the Royal Australian Navy, while Able Seaman Emmerton has notched up 13 years. Both agreed that the course was a challenging one.
 
“For me, the hardest part was the physical level required for Fire Fighting,” Seaman Watts said.

Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro presents Able Seaman Adam Emmerton with his certificate for best qualifying student during the graduation ceremony of Aviation Support 01/14 course.

Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro presents Able Seaman Adam Emmerton with his certificate for best qualifying student during the graduation ceremony of Aviation Support 01/14 course.


For Able Seaman Emmerton, it was conducting first-aid and spinal treatment of causalities that was most challenging.
 
“We were required to remove single and multiple casualties, in a smoke filled aircraft cabin environment, in full fire fighting gear and with breathing apparatus on,” he said.
 
Able Seaman Emmerton, who was named ‘Best Overall Student of the Course’, said the challenges were a big part of why he enjoyed the training.

“Learning and conducting specialist aviation crash rescue and fire fighting techniques in different, challenging and stressful environments was demanding, but also very satisfying.
 
“I also enjoyed learning and using the mechanical aircraft handlers to move aircraft around tight confined spaces in the hangar.
 
“I’m looking forward to being posted to sea in one of LHDs and putting my training into action - and ultimately having a long and rewarding career as an AVN in the Royal Australian Navy,” Able Seaman Emmerton said.      
 
Director Training Authority - Aviation, CMDR Tim Standen welcomed the graduates to the Fleet Air Arm family, stating that theirs was a critical role which would enable the Australian Defence Force to effectively and safely operate aircraft at sea in the amphibious operations environment.

Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro addresses invited guests during the graduation ceremony of Aviation Support 01/14 course at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra.

Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro addresses invited guests during the graduation ceremony of Aviation Support 01/14 course at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra.


Addressing the graduates before an audience of their instructors, colleagues, families and friends, Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro said that the new AVNs would perform a crucial role in Australian amphibious operations.
 
“You will be a very large part of the ‘L’ and ‘H’ in the LHD. Your roles onboard will be crucial to Navy and the Australian Defence Force’s ability to exploit the lion's share of what the LHD has to offer. Ashore, you will be active in Fleet Air Arm squadrons and the wider aviation capability,” Commodore Di Pietro said.
 
“Your responsibilities will demand flexibility, adaptability and energy. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have served with AVNs in years gone by came to rely on the AVN sailor, and respected enormously what they brought to embarked aviation elements and supporting squadrons ashore.
 
“Enjoy your chosen career path. You will learn much and have great fun along the way, and you'll be walking in the footsteps of some of the truly great, professional characters of the Fleet Air Arm,” he said.
 
Congratulations to the newest members of the Aviation Support Category. They are:

  • Able Seaman John Abbott
  • Leading Seaman Benjamin Chapman
  • Able Seaman Lindsay Cozyn
  • Able Seaman Adam Emmerton
  • Able Seaman Trent Gomm
  • Leading Seaman Conor Gray
  • Able Seaman Jarrod Kreinberg
  • Able Seaman Justin Prasad
  • Able Seaman Brian Reid
  • Able Seaman Joel Sorrensen
  • Able Seaman Matthew Timu
  • Able Seaman Callum Watts

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142509.