HMAS Adelaide, the second of two Canberra-class landing helicopter docks (LHD) in service with the Royal Australian Navy, got underway from its Sydney homeport to start first-of-class flight trials for the MH-60R Romeo helicopters.
The trials will determine the safe operating limits of the Romeo helicopters on the LHDs in a range of sea states and wind speeds at both day and night.
The MH-60R ‘Romeo’ helicopter, based at 816 Squadron in Nowra, New South Wales, is the navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter.
The trials are a crucial testing process to establish the true extent of how the MH-60R operates in the maritime environment on navy’s various platforms.
Lieutenant Commander Chris Broadbent of the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit said the trials include aviation facilities assessments, equipment calibration, and evaluation of the interface between a particular helicopter type and class of ship.
“While MH-60R aircraft have been used on HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra for some time, new tests are required to determine what new safe operating limits they can achieve when working together,” Lieutenant Commander Broadbent said.
The flight trials will be conducted in Queensland waters over the coming weeks and include actively chasing the right weather conditions to adequately prove capability.
Adelaide’s commanding officer, Captain Jonathan Ley, said the training was essential to ensuring navy maintains its readiness to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
“The results will provide a new standard of operational capability, informing how Navy can employ the MH-60R and LHD together in the future to increase both lethality in combat, and responsiveness during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks,” Captain Ley said.
Captain Ley said navy had put in strict measures on its ships to ensure the continuation of essential training while preserving the health and welfare of its people.
All crew on Adelaide were screened for COVID-19 symptoms before departure.
According to the navy, major fleet units deploy with a medical officer or an appropriately trained medical team who are capable of screening and providing care to any personnel with symptoms.
“Adelaide is currently the navy’s high readiness vessel and may be tasked by the Australian government to respond to emergencies across the region, including support to civil authorities in Australia, or overseas, in their efforts against COVID-19. It is imperative that we maintain that high readiness capability, and provide reassurance that ADF can respond immediately even in times of crisis,” Captain Ley said.