Home of Seahawks celebrates 28 years

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), CPOIS Cameron Martin (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

Topic(s): 816 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm

Commanding Officer 816 Squadron, Commander Todd Glynn, left, looks on as the youngest member of the Squadron, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Gene Johns cuts the birthday cake to celebrate the anniversary of the recommissioning of the squadron on 23 July 1992. (photo: CPOIS Cameron Martin)
Commanding Officer 816 Squadron, Commander Todd Glynn, left, looks on as the youngest member of the Squadron, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Gene Johns cuts the birthday cake to celebrate the anniversary of the recommissioning of the squadron on 23 July 1992.

Thursday 23 July was cause for celebration within the Fleet Air Arm with Navy’s 816 Squadron celebrating 28 years of service since recommissioning as the home of Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters.

The anniversary provided Squadron personnel to celebrate current successes as well as reflect on the Squadron’s illustrious past, that has been a part of the Royal Australian Navy in various roles and operating various aircraft since 1939.

Commanding Officer 816 Squadron Commander Todd Glynn said the Squadron has a strong sense of their history.

“Sometimes in order to keep moving forward, not only must you take one step at a time, you must be willing to look back occasionally and evaluate your past.

“Looking back lets you know whether or not you are headed in the right direction.

“This anniversary presented us with the opportunity to take a breath, look back on the last 18 months, and remind ourselves not only what we have achieved, but how we achieved it

MH-60R capability is nothing without our people and it is this commitment to professionalism in maritime combat operations that makes this job so special,” Commander Glynn said.

Since recommissioning on 23 July 1992, 816 Squadron has provided aviation support to the Navy and the wider ADF across an array of operations.

The Squadron was deployed on Operation DAMASK in the Persian Gulf when it commissioned and has maintained a continuous presence in that region to this day.

From 1992 to 2018, the Squadron provided support through the S-70B-2 Seahawk, and delivered operational maritime combat helicopter capability across multiple theatres, including the Middle East and East Timor.

The Squadron has contributed to peacekeeping operations in the Solomon Islands and performed a key role in the success of Operations RELEX and RESOLUTE.

It had a significant role in assisting the community in rescues conducted during the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Canberra bushfires, cyclones and flood relief efforts.

More recently 816 Squadron has been equipped with the MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Maritime Combat Helicopter.

The operational pace has continued to increase for the Officers and Sailors of 816 Squadron and at present, the squadron has four aircraft deployed in support of the Task Group conducting regional engagement operations throughout the near region.

Simultaneously, other aircraft are working up for future commitments. As well as the past and the present there was also the future to consider.

As is Navy custom: cake-cutting duties were shared by Commander Glynn and the youngest Squadron member, 22 year old Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Gene Johns.

Able Seaman Johns celebrated three years in the Navy on 31 July and says his focus is firmly on the future.

“MH-60R are state-of-the-art aircraft and I couldn’t think of a place I’d rather be,” he said.

“It’s not just machines I enjoy working with, it’s the men and women who make up 816 Squadron.

“The icing on the career cake, for me, is the mates I get to work with day in, day out,” said Able Seaman Johns.

More on the history of 816 Squadron can be found on the Royal Australian Navy website:
https://www.navy.gov.au/history/squadron-histories/816-squadron-history.