The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Romeo helicopter has had another system added to its arsenal, with the commencement of dipping operations off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on 13 May.
After five months of flying operations from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, NUSQN 725 received its first Airborne Low Frequency Sonar System (ALFS) and with the complex process of installation, calibration and test flying behind them, the team eagerly put the ALFS through its paces in the local exercise areas.
The system consists of a number of moving parts and processing equipment, including a transducer (commonly referred to as the dome) which is lowered (dipped) into the water. A reeling machine which houses the lengthy cable is also installed in the cabin with raising and lowering functions which are operated by the Sensor Operator.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Chief Petty Officer Aircrewman Nathan Minett after completing the first ‘dipping’ sortie. “This is one of the primary roles of the aircraft and it’s great to see the system operating as advertised,” he added.
Also in the crew was Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Todd Glynn, who spoke of the return of this warfare capability to the Fleet Air Arm.
“I was lucky enough to be part of 817 Squadron when they had a dipping capability and it’s incredible to see how the systems have developed over the years,” Lieutenant Commander Glynn said.
“This system, in concert with others, will give the Romeo a tactical anti-submarine advantage and I look forward to seeing it doing the business for the Fleet,” he said.
The Commanding Officer of NUSQN 725, Commander David Frost said that the delivery of the first ALFS has capped off an incredible array of weapons and sensors in the MH-60R, the likes of which the Fleet Air Arm, and the wider Navy, have not seen before.
“This aircraft packs an incredible punch and we can’t wait to bring it back home and pass on our new found knowledge. Every day we’re reminded of the level of technology and war fighting capability designed into the Romeo, and I’m incredibly impressed with the way our men and women have not only soaked it all in, but go that extra mile every day,” Commander Frost said.
The Squadron has now turned its attention to building on the knowledge taught in the United States Navy training system, while maturing their warfare skills in preparation for deploying to a weapons range later in the year.
NUSQN 725 will commence a phased return to its home base at HMAS Albatross from October this year, with current plans having all members of the squadron and support personnel back on deck before to Christmas.
Press Release, May 15, 2014; Image: Australian Navy