Romeo flight trials with new Air Warfare Destroyer

An MH-60R Seahawk Helicopter from 816 Squadron lands on HMAS Hobart's flight deck during a flight deck trial alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. (Defence)
An MH-60R Seahawk Helicopter from 816 Squadron lands on HMAS Hobart’s flight deck during a flight deck trial alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. (Defence)

The Royal Austalian Navy’s Aircraft Maintenance And Flight Trials Unit has conducted preliminary deck handling trials between a 816 Squadron Romeo Flight 6 MH-60R Seahawk landing on board the new Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs), HMAS Hobart, in Sydney Harbour.

In the planning since May, the first-of-class trial began on 7 November alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, in order to reduce the risks associated with landing at sea, and included an approach, landing, and subsequent launch of Seahawk Romeo N48-013.

“It may seem like a benign task and landing on ships at sea is something we do all the time,” Aero-systems testing officer Lieutenant Chris Prescott told the Navy Daily.

“But in this trial we’re dealing with a brand new helicopter and a brand new ship.”

The trial included testing of the new Aircraft-Ship Integrated Secure and Traverse system for the helicopter’s straightening and traversing in and out of the hangar – the first time the system has been used in an Australian warship.

There was also flight deck clearance assessments, communications and lighting, chain lashing patterns, fuel connections and hangar clearance for maintenance and damage control.

The Romeo carried a dummy Mk54 Torpedo for preliminary review.

“The partnering of the MH-60R Seahawk and destroyer brings about an unprecedented level of capability for the Royal Australian Navy,” said Lieutenant Prescott.

“Both platforms are at the forefront of technology and usher in a new era of interoperability, within the Australian Navy and with the militaries of allied nations.”

On completion of the trials, the Defence Aviation Safety Authority will issue the destroyer with an Aviation Facilities Certification before HMAS Hobart returns to sea early in 2018 with an MH-60R helicopter embarked in order to continue trials and develop safe Ship Helicopter Operating Limits.

Members of the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit prepare to traverse a MH-60R Seahawk Helicopter onboard HMAS Hobart during flight deck trials conducted alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. (Defence)
Members of the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit prepare to traverse a MH-60R Seahawk Helicopter onboard HMAS Hobart. (Defence)
The MH-60R Seahawk helicopter's rotor blades are folded in preparation for traversing into the hanger of destroyer HMAS Hobart, alongside Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. (Defence)
The MH-60R Seahawk helicopter’s rotor blades are folded in preparation for traversing into the hanger of destroyer HMAS Hobart. (Defence)

Comments

  1. Peter Bourke says

    Interested to know more about the photos if anyone can help please:
    1. The second photo shows a sailor hosing the tail wheel – what is the purpose of this please?
    2. The third photo shows two sailors holding the end of the rotors. Is folding automatic (and they are just guiding the rotors) or does it require manual intervention please?

  2. AlanH says

    All very well to land on a rock steady platform on a sunny day in a benign Garden Island setting in Sydney Harbour. How will they go 200kms off the coast in a Force 10 gale and mountainous seas I wonder?

  3. Lance says

    Walk, crawl, run Alan. You practice on a stationary deck first to check the handling, airflow, deck procedures. Get that down pat before you test it out on the high seas next year.

  4. D W Bell says

    Historically both the RAN and RNZN have very safe flying ops records, because they take their time, respect the elements and the equipment and like to get it right, by not making preventable mistakes. Shame some of the more larger “headline” navies around the world don’t take leaf out of the ANZAC nations!