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Navy commissions 725 Squadron

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 15, 2015

725 Squadron CommissioningThe Royal Australian Navy’s 725 Squadron has been re-commissioned during a ceremony at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, on Thursday.

As NUSQN 725 the unit was stood up in February 2013, tasked with introducing the MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ into service, and will be the Fleet Air Arm’s training squadron for the new type, which is replacing the Navy’s current S-70B-2 ‘classic’ Seahawks. Current S-70B operating unit 816 Squadron will become the Romeo’s operational squadron once it completes its transition to the MH-60R.

A total of 24 Romeo helicopters are being delivered under the $3.2 billion Air 9000 Phase 8 project to acquire a new naval combat helicopter. To date 11 Romeos have been accepted into service, with deliveries running on budget and ahead of schedule.

“I congratulate the men and women of 725 Squadron and the Fleet Air Arm, who have worked tirelessly preparing for this next phase,” Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said in a speech at the commissioning ceremony.

“They have undergone extensive training, trials and preparation to ensure the aircraft and personnel are fit and ready for service.”

The Romeo has already been involved in first-of-class flight trials aboard Anzac frigate HMAS Perth, and is on track to achieve initial operational capability at sea in August.

“The Romeo has already demonstrated great prowess as the maritime combat helicopter of the Royal Australian Navy,” Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer said.

“Now 725 Squadron, and in the future 816 Squadron, will take this very capable aircraft even further and will join with the surface and subsurface elements of the Fleet in forming a networked sea control team.”

725 Squadron was initially formed as a Royal Navy unit in the Second World War. It was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1958 as a fleet requirements and communications squadron – the following year it was redesignated as an anti-submarine warfare training unit – and would initially operate a mixed fleet of C-47 Dakota, Auster, Sea Fury, Firefly and Gannet aircraft.

Between 1962 and 1975 725 Squadron operated the Westland Wessex in the ASW training role, during which time it was involved in search and rescue efforts during the HMAS Voyager disaster, flying ASW patrols from HMAS Sydney during that ship’s troop transport runs to Vietnam, and rescue efforts during the Nowra floods and following Darwin’s Cyclone Tracy, both in 1974.

“We pride ourselves on being a team of highly professional, focused and committed men and women. We share these qualities with those who have gone before us and we very much look to carrying on the proud heritage of 725 Squadron,” 725SQN commanding officer Commander David Frost said at the commissioning ceremony.

“It’s an absolute honour that 40 years after the last 725 Squadron de-commissioned, we are joined by original members and commanding officers of 725 who set the bar very high.”

725 Squadron Commissioning

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Comments (7)

  • Chris G


    Two Operational SQNs supporting the Two Oceans Policy at FBE and FBW would make some sense. Having 8 operational MH60R out of 24 needs revising. Given the capabilities of modern simulators the need for a Trng SQN is spurious. Do we really want and can we afford A$100M+ training airframes? Not forgetting the 25th airframe the B to R rebuild that will be used as a maintenance trainer after the rebuild program was abandoned in favour of all new build MH60R helicopters. Airframes at FBE and FBW might not be equal, but our AORs, DDGHs, FFHs and LHDs need adequate rotary support. They also need submarines to practise ASW with.

  • TimC69


    Couldn’t agree more Chris, we should have 20 airframes available at any given time. More training in simulators and a two oceans policy for deployment of assets.

  • John N


    I don’t know why everyone get all ‘excited’ about the fact that of the 24 MH-60R’s that will eventually be in the RAN inventory, eight will be available for operations at any one time (the requirement set by Navy and Government) and that somehow this is a ‘failure’? Why? Seriously, why?

    The current fleet of 3 FFG and 8 FFH (the 4th FFG, HMAS Sydney, is now alongside at FBE and will be decommissioned by the end of the year) will eventually be replaced by 3 AWD’s and 8 Future Frigates, for a total of 11 ships. Of those 11 ships (now and into the future), does anyone actually think that of those 11 ships, more than 8 will be ‘operational’ at any one time? No they won’t, there will be ships on deployment, ships on standby to replace and there will be ships undertaking maintenance and/or docking, there is no way that 8 or more will be available for deployment and operation at any one time.

    Getting back to the plan for 8 available for deployment at any one time, the Government also said at the time that having a fleet of 24 airframes would also allow for a ‘surge’ capability if and when required, again, I still don’t see what the problem is, does anyone want to see these airframes flogged to death like the 16 older Seahawks were? I certainly don’t! Having a fleet of 24 allows for ‘rotation’ of the airframes and spread flight hours evenly throughout the fleet, 8 for operation, 8 for training, 8 for maintenance and attrition, the ‘rule of threes’!!

    So what about other RAN ships that might be capable of hosting an MH-60R?

    There will be the two Canberra class LHD’s (will get to that last), HMAS Choules and the two new AOR’s that will replace HMAS Success (currently capable of helicopter operations and HMAS Sirius, heli deck but no hangar and as I understand it is ‘not’ capable of hosting a helicopter).

    Choules and the two new AOR’s would be better suited (due to their capabilities and roles), to host and operate ‘utility’ aircraft such as MRH-90’s, these ships are not ‘combat’ ships, they are all support ships and should be utilised as such.

    As for the two LHD’s, yes there is no doubt that the ‘possibility’ exists for these two ships to host a flight of a couple of MH-60R’s at various stages, but being ASW carriers is not currently part of their day to day operational requirement, firstly we need to ensure that the LHD’s are 100% proficient in their primary amphibious role and that will mean being able to operate multiple numbers of MRH-90’s, CH-47F and possibly Tigers too, I think qualifying them for ASW operations with MH-60R’s is a long way down the list at present.

    Anyway, getting back to the original point, are 8 MH-60R’s available for ‘operation’ at any one time sufficient? Yes it is. Is there a ‘surge capability’ available within the fleet of 24? Yes there is, if and when required.

    All seems perfectly fine and reasonable to me!!


    John N

  • Josh J


    Great to see another historic squadron being reinstated! Is there any chance that No 5 Flight RAAF will be renumbered 5 Squadron when it (potentially) swaps the IAI Heron for the Predator UAV?

  • Chris G


    I agree with John N about certain points like the Seahawks being flogged to death because of the SH2GA issues. However the MH60R acquisition cost is over A$50M. He is suggesting it is okay for A$400M in assets to be used for training and the same again for maintenance and attrition. The ANAO has criticised the ADF and DMO for using 3 times acquisition as life time costs.
    16 Australianised Seahawks were acquired for 6 FFG7 ships that could hangar 12 helicopters via the RAST system. 8 ANZAC FFH can hangar 8 via RAST. The Hobart class DDGH can hangar 3 by 2020 on current plans. However they use the ASIST system which means the MH60R embarked on them have to be modified.
    9 FFGH might replace the ANZACs. A towed VDS like fitted to the Hobarts is likely. As GP frigates they are more likely to have a ASW focus than the AWD. The move towards UAVs at sea means a second hangar is likely. It would be prudent to have helos to occupy it. The other likely proposition is that the ANZAC replacements will have azipods and transformers in lieu of gearboxes and shafts given the formers noise reduction advantages.
    The Canberras and Choules have azipods and transformers. Melbourne CVL21 had 2 shafts, one with 3 and the other 4 props to confuse submarines. Choules 2 Dutch and 2 Spanish sisterships have large hangars and exercise as ASW motherships.
    At least 2 new RAN AORs are in the funding pipeline. The two shortlisted designs have two hangars each. The MRH90 without powered folding rotors are of limited utility especially as the 4tonne hook does not interface with navy devices. The MH60R hook lifts 2.7tonne. Given the limited number of RAN escorts the AORs may need to do ASW themselves including towed VDS from the stern refuelling spot.
    The last issue is Mine Warfare especially in the littoral. The SH2G carried the Magic Lantern LASER system. The MH60S tows various sleds of acoustic, electromagnetic and other types. With only 6 Huon Mine Hunters protecting our ports it is unlikely they could deploy with an Army BDE embarked on the Canberras and Choules.

  • John N


    Chris G,

    Mate, no offence, but seriously? I’m finding it really hard to understand your logic on this one.

    What has the acquisition cost of each airframe have to do with how it is operated? What does it matter if an MH-60R costs $50m or $100m or even $150m each, how does the cost of an individual airframe dictate how it is used? (Should the ‘measurement’ of cost per item be applied across the whole of the ADF? Every piece of ‘operational’ equipment shouldn’t be used for training, it should be pushed to front line operations??)

    Yes of course the Navy (just like the RAAF and Army) will use simulators and ground instructional airframes to train crews, but shouldn’t those crews actually gain experience on the ‘real thing’ too? I’d much prefer to see that crews that are going to eventually end up in ‘operational’ squadrons actually having real first hand experience and training on the ‘actual’ aircraft they are going to use operationally.

    The whole point at the moment is that the RAN is operating at a ‘peace time’ tempo, we aren’t at war with anyone (unless I forgot to read the memo!!!) The current plan is to have 8 airframes (of the 24) ‘always’ available for operations and that ‘if’ required there is an inbuilt ‘surge’ capability, does that not tell you that if the ‘poo’ did hit the fan that obviously extra airframes would be available for front line operational service?

    And in this current ‘peace time’ situation there are only a limited number of ships that will be assigned to host an MH-60R, I’ll repeat again, there are currently 11 operational frigates (HMAS Sydney is not going to sea again), in the future there will be 11 operational destroyers/frigates available for service (AWD’s, FFH and their replacements, the Future Frigate, the FFG’s will not see MH-60R’s operation of them in their short time left in service), realistically there will be no more than half of those ships ‘regularly’ deployed, the remainder will be getting ready to deploy and others will be in maintenance of some sort.

    As an example (especially for naval ships), you have to look at the ‘rule of threes’ to understand this, if you want a capability available 100% of the time, you need ‘three’ of that capability, to have ‘one’ AWD ‘always’ available (24/7, 52 weeks of the year), you need three ships, eg, one on deployment, one ready to deploy and one in maintenance. With only three AWD’s you can of course have ‘all’ deployed some of the time, but you can’t have ‘all’ deployed all of the time, it just doesn’t work that way.

    If an AWD (with its embarked MH60R) had been deployed overseas for six months, when it returns, the ship will no doubt go into a maintenance period (the crew also needs a break too), the embarked MH-60R would no doubt return to Nowra for maintenance too, the next ‘available’ AWD would then depart for it’s six month deployment and a fresh MH-60R (out of the ‘pool’ of 24) and its new crew would deploy, and on and on the cycle would continue.

    Surely you can see the logic in that? The eight (8) MH-60R’s ‘always’ available for service will be more than enough for the number of navy ships available to operate them off?

    And again, as for Choules and the two future AOR’s, they are not front line combat ships, they are support ships and should be operated accordingly, why would you want to operate one of those ‘very expensive’ MH-60R’s off them and using them as ‘trash’ haulers with an underslung load moving cargo from A to B? Now that would be a total waste of a valuable asset. I will agree 100% that the MHR-90’s are probably not the most appropriate ‘utility’ aircraft for the RAN to use, I think a better solution would be for the RAN to hand back those aircraft to the Army and procure sufficient numbers of MH-60S utility aircraft, much more practical and much more in common with the ‘R’ too (but that’s a total different discussion to have!!).

    Lastly the LHD’s, they are amphibious transports, not ASW carriers, simple as that, they have a very important specific task to fulfil, again not to say that under the appropriate circumstances they couldn’t operate MH-60R’s such as in the event of a conflict, but normally they would also be escorted by either AWD’s or Future Frigates equipped with MH-60R’s.

    Chris G, mate, we are not at war with anyone at the moment (yes I’m sure the Navy has a file cabinet full of envelopes for contingencies marked ‘A to Z’), and when and if appropriate the number of MH-60R’s (above the current eight) will be made available if called upon, until then, well eight it is!


    John N

  • Edward Stannington Bell


    Chris G, Knows not of what he says. Yes, simulators have their place, a very great place. But my not inconsiderable experience told me that we have not yet reached the era/stage in which we can dispense with REAL aircraft in a training squadron. Argue as you will, Chris G, but to keep it short–YOU ARE WRONG, SO WRONG.

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