A Seahawk and its crew from 816 Squadron have been specially detached to HMAS Perth for Exercise TALISMAN SABER in the waters off Central Queensland.
Flight commander Lieutenant Commander Jeff Topping said the birdies would have more of a training focus and wouldn’t become ship’s company.
“Normally an aircraft and its air crew and maintainers become the ship’s asset, fully integrated into the ship’s company, and they stay with the ship for longer,” he said.
“We are with HMAS Perth only for Exercise TALISMAN SABER 13 and specifically for the purposes of achieving training goals.”
“Our goal is to get several members of our maintenance team and air crew past key training milestones so they can become fully qualified.”
The 816 SQN detachment would also help further the ship’s aviation operations.
“(We will) extend their training and become proficient in more complex aviation operations,” Lieutenant Commander Topping said.
Lieutenant Commander Topping is embarked as flight commander for the first time along with Leading Seaman James Inglish who is becoming fully qualified on the Seahawk after many years on the Navy’s now-retired Sea Kings.
Chief Petty Officer Michael Wratten is getting his first experience leading an aircraft maintenance crew at sea and pilot Lieutenant Leigh George is completing key flying tasks to become fully qualified.
Three junior maintainers are on their first trip to sea and three more aviation crew will arrive part way through the exercise, replacing members of the original team who will have achieved their required training.
“Training deployments like this one are usually arranged once a year, but it’s really worthwhile to deploy to a major international exercise like TALISMAN SABER 13,” Lieutenant Commander Topping said.
“It means we don’t just get exposure to our own training, we also experience the larger exercise training environment so we can achieve our goals more efficiently while gaining experiences we wouldn’t get otherwise.”
Exercise TALISMAN SABER 2013 is a biennial, bilateral exercise designed to train Australian and United States military forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations from 15 July to 5 August.
Press Release, July 30, 2013; Image: US Navy