NUSQN 725 concluded its flying operations at Naval Air Station Jacksonville with a final flight of the Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk on 4th December.
Departing from Naval Air Station – Jacksonville, it was fitting that Lieutenant Commander Dan Ashbolt, Aircraft Captain, and Leuitenant Karl Knoll, Mission Commander, took Aussie 397, the first MH-60R delivered to the Royal Australia Navy, on its final sortie in the Jacksonville area.
NUSQN 725, MH-60R Project Office and a number of dedicated supporting agencies achieved a number of significant milestones whilst deployed in the USA. The Squadron flew a total of 1,170 hours, conducted Hellfire missile firings, MK 54 Torpedo firings, laser targeting operations, night vision device training, and Joint Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises with United States Navy and Peruvian Navy units. Additionally, a key group of maintenance sailors and aircrew were trained in the respective professions to operate the state of the art machine.
As a thank you to the officers and sailors of Jacksonville, the remaining Australian Navy members took the opportunity to host those United States Navy and civilian personnel from the many organisations that have contributed to the successful introduction of the MH-60R into Australian service.
Commanding Officer NUSQN 725, Commander Dave Frost, presented Naval Air Station – Jacksonville Commanding Officer, Captain Roy Undersander, with a commemorative picture and patches. The picture now proudly hangs in the ‘Aussie’ corner of the Naval Air Station all ranks clubhouse.
In response, Commanding Officer Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron – 48, Commander Ed O’Grady, also showed his Squadron’s appreciation and close ties with their Australian mates, by personally flying to Jacksonville from nearby Naval Air Station – Mayport and presenting a signed aircraft panel for display in Australia.
For the members of NUSQN 725 it was a bittersweet time as the curtain draws on two years in the United States. They left behind true United States southern hospitality but were very excited to reunite with family and friends in Australia in time for Christmas.
All Royal Australian Navy Squadron members will re-commence operating from HMAS Albatross in January 2015.