A memorial rededication service held at HMAS Albatross today marked the ninth anniversary of the loss of the Sea King helicopter ‘Shark 02’, which crashed in 2005 while supporting a humanitarian support mission on the Indonesian island of Nias. Nine Australian Defence Force personnel were killed in the crash.
The personnel who lost their lives during the incident included four aircrew from 817 Squadron, who were based at HMAS Albatross: Lieutenant Paul Kimlin, Lieutenant Jonathan King, Lieutenant Mathew Goodall and Leading Seaman Aircrewman Scott Bennet.
The service recognised the completion of renovation work on the Albatross Shark 02 Memorial. The families of the Shark 02 aircrew were involved in every stage of the renovation of the memorial, from the design through to the physical construction.
Chaplain Andrew Watters conducted the service.
“Today is a day with many layers of meaning for each one of us, and for each one this time will be a unique experience. Yet, we are united in a single purpose – as we gather here, we have come to remember four men and to rededicate this memorial to them,” Chaplain Watters said.
“This memorial is about them and it is also about us. It is not just about a terrible event and untimely death, nor is it limited to admiration and thanksgiving for their professionalism, duty and dedication. It is also a place to remember life, their lives and our lives with them.
“This is a place of profound memories. It is a place for the deepest sighs and the heartiest laughter; it is place to tell stories, theirs and ours,” he said.
Commander Mathew Bradley, Acting Commanding Officer of HMAS Albatross, thanked the Shark 02 families for their involvement in renovating the memorial.
“Your efforts have produced something really special and enduring,” he said.
“Thank you. Not only to you, their families, but to their friends and colleagues; and the personnel that serve at Albatross and will serve at Albatross in the years to come,” Commander Bradley said.
The Albatross memorial now features a replica of the tail rotor blade that was placed at the Nias crash site by the personnel of HMAS Kanimbla, in memory of the Shark 02 crew. A plaque on the blade reads: “A casting of a tail rotor blade from Shark 02 that was used as a temporary memorial at Tuindrao, and cared for by the local people.”
Commander Bradley said the memorial represented many things.
“It is only when we move away from the face value of stone and metal before us that we start to recognise the enduring memory that is within.”
“To the families of the crew members, this memorial will not replace a father or an uncle or a brother or a mate or a son; it does not repay debt; it does not remove pain or sorrow or the disappointment in loss.
“These memories that the memorial may invoke in you will be yours to keep, this memorial in the home of the Fleet Air Arm is therefore yours, and again, on behalf of Albatross I extend my thanks for your efforts,” he said.
Press Release, April 2, 2014; Image: Australian Navy