As the Australian Navy’s newest ship’s company prepared for her commissioning ceremony, two Navy helicopters marked a different milestone by making the first deck landings on Australia’s largest warship.
A MRH90 ‘Taipan’ from 808 Squadron and an S-70-B Seahawk from 816 Squadron flew to Fleet Base East, Sydney from their base at HMAS Albatross, Nowra to begin deck handling trials with Canberra’s aviation support crew.
Aviation support sailor Able Seaman James Sullivan was the Aircraft Rescue Fire suitman on the day and witnessed the landing first hand.
Due to restricted air space over the ship both aircraft had to use the same landing spot therefore the flight deck team had their work cut out for them removing the first aircraft from the deck before the second came in.
Canberra’s Flight Deck Officer, Lieutenant Paul Coxell said the first landings where a significant event for both the aviation department and the ship as a whole.
It is the first time in over 30 years that Navy has had such a platform that enables air operations on a grand scale, with six landing spots and a hangar with workshops able to accommodate multiple aircraft.
Not only was this the first landing of an aircraft on the ship, but for many of the aviation department it’s their first time at sea and also the first time since the completion of their training that they have experienced landing an aircraft on a ship.
It was an exciting moment and an event that will be written into the history books for the entire aviation department.
While a significant step forward, this is also just the start for Canberra’s Air Department with the focus now swiftly moving into deck handling and ‘first of class’ flight trials to begin the more complex task of certification.
The two aircraft remained onboard Canberra for the commissioning ceremony last Friday, 28 November and are scheduled to return to HMAS Albatross in the coming week.
Press release, Image: Australian Navy