First real test for Australian MH-60R helicopter

HMAS Perth's MH-60R leaves the flight deck while the ship is in Victoria, Seychelles, to assist the Seychelles' Coast Guard in a search and rescue mission after a civilian boat capsized during the night. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth and its embarked MH-60R helicopter took part in a search and rescue off the coast of Seychelles for the first time on August 14.

Two survivors were located by Perth’s MH-60R helicopter, call sign ‘Hellcat’, and were recovered by a civilian yacht.

According to the navy, the support provided to the rescue mission marked the first occasion that an Australian Navy MH-60R whilst on an operational deployment has been used in such a mission.

Perth had been conducting a logistics and crew respite visit to the island town of Port Victoria, Seychelles when the Seychelles Maritime Safety Agency made the support request.

Seychelles Maritime Safety Agency Director, Captain Joachim Valmont said a fishing vessel capsized during a night crossing between the islands of Praslin and La Digue, some 45 km northwest of Port Victoria.

Perth’s New Zealand Exchange Officer and officer-of-the-day throughout the mission was Sub Lieutenant Jeffrey Handcock.

“It’s days like this that validate the extensive training it takes to be an officer-of-the-day.The MH60R’s sophisticated sensors and communications meant we provided the much needed coordination and search assistance,” Sub Lieutant Handcock said.

Perth resumed its counter-terrorist mission following the search and rescue operation.

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