Seahawk ‘Skeletor’ retires from RAN service

Skeletor and HMAS Arunta. (Defence)

A Royal Australian Navy S-70B-2 Seahawk anti-submarine helicopter known as Skeletor has flown its last operational flight, ending a career logging 6,200 airframe hours and spanning more than 28 years of service.

The RAN retired N24-011 during a maintenance period for Anzac class frigate HMAS Arunta in Bahrain, while deployed on Operation Manitou in late March.

The helicopter’s final flight from the ship was into Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East, where the Seahawk was dismantled and prepared for transport back to Australia.

Defence stated on April 13 that an MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopter would soon be arriving in theatre so that HMAS Arunta can maintain its extended surveillance and interception capability as it patrols.

The RAN’s S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters are planned to be withdrawn from service in the 2017-18 financial year, and 11 airframes and associated inventory have been offered for commercial sale.

“The airframes were not included as sale items in the Australian Military Sales Equipment Catalogue as they are not in suitable condition to be offered to foreign governments,” a Defence spokesperson told sister publication Australian Defence Business Review on March 1.

“The items available in the catalogue are a small subset of the Seahawk disposal program and consist of spare, airworthy parts.”

Seahawk N24-011 at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East. (Defence)

Comments

  1. B. Harrison says

    Considering these helicopters were purchased 28 years ago, they have given wonderful service and not one airframe lost to accident. Maybe that should be a criteria in future when purchasing equipment. One final point, is it too hard to maintain 6-8 as utility choppers?

  2. adammudhen says

    @B. Harrison, agreed they have been great machines and their safety record is amazing, considering the environments they operate in. However, I’m not sure how you plan to set a criteria/requirement on new equipment that, by definition, can’t be foreseen. How do you order ‘un-crashable’ aircraft? If you can find a way, you’ll revolutionise the procurement process.

    Also, these airframes are beaten, hanging on to a small, tired and orphan fleet for utility work when we have the Navy operated MRH-90s makes little sense.

  3. John N says

    B, Harrison,

    The problem with trying to continue to operate 28 year old airframes, no matter how well they may have been maintained, is all the ‘obsolescent’ equipment, all the little bits that become harder and harder to source, better off retiring them while the going is good.

    As to a ‘larger’ fleet of utility airframes, yes would agree, personally I’d like to see the 6 Navy MRH90’s handed back to army (gives them a larger fleet) and a fleet of MH-60S airframes procured for Navy, approx. 10-12 would probably be sufficient in the utility role across the fleet.

    The 60S and 60R have a lot of systems in common, and of course crew transition from one to the other type would be much simpler too.

    Anyway, the S-70B-2’s have given great service, I’m sure the MH-60R’s will live up to what has gone before them too!

    Cheers,

    John N

  4. Holden says

    Impossible to maintain the Seahawks and Blackhawks in current service economically as military platforms beyond early 2020s, as spares availability is declining year on year for these models.

    Shame as they are venerable workhorses, but that’s reality unfortunately.

  5. John N says

    Henk Luf,

    As I understand it, the already retired N24-001 is on display at the FAA Museum Nowra.

  6. Zarg says

    One for the Queensland Air Museum would be nice. The only RAN chopper we have is the Wessex.

  7. Mick181 says

    One at the war Memorial to represent the anti Piracy missions the Navy have been conducting for a decade or more, would be a great idea.