A new helicopter to be used by both the Royal Australian Navy and Army was today inducted into the Australian Defence Force Fleet during a commissioning ceremony at HMAS Albatross, near Nowra, NSW.
The ceremony also marked the formal induction of 808 Squadron to operate the new MRH 90 Taipan Multi-Role Helicopter.
Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Commander of the Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, Commander of the Fleet Air Arm Commodore Vincenzo Di Pietro, Commanding Officer of 808 Squadron Commander Charles Stephenson, and current and former 808 Squadron personnel and their families attended.
This significant milestone is the culmination of three years of training, testing, development and trials to bring this new generation, high-tech aircraft into service. Further trials will be conducted with the aircraft after commissioning.
Rear Admiral Tim Barrett said the Navy would use the aircraft for the maritime support role previously carried out by the now retired Sea King helicopter, while the Army would use it to replace its Blackhawk helicopters as a battlefield and special operations support helicopter.
“The commissioning of 808 Squadron is a significant milestone for the Navy as we formally welcome into service a new generation, maritime support helicopter that not only replaces the retired Sea Kings, but delivers new capabilities and a capacity to meet emerging requirements in the future,” Rear Admiral Barrett said.
808 Squadron was previously commissioned into the RAN during the 1950s when it operated fighter aircraft from the Navy’s aircraft carriers HMA Ships Sydney and Melbourne.
The re-commissioned 808 Squadron not only inherits its predecessor’s crest, battle honours and motto Strength in Unity, but also its legacy of operational excellence, courage under fire and of breaking new ground in naval aviation.
“This is a significant day for the men and women of 808 Squadron, who have all worked hard over a long period preparing ourselves, our unit and our aircraft to join the Fleet,” Rear Admiral Barrett said.
“Bringing a technologically advanced, new generation aircraft into service is no simple task, but 808 Squadron personnel have worked tirelessly together, and with the Defence Materiel Organisation project office and the Army to reach this milestone.
“There are several nations around the world introducing variants of the MRH 90 Helicopter but 808 Squadron is leading the world in the level of capability being achieved with this new aircraft, particularly in its operations at sea.
“808 Squadron is continuing the legacy of excellence of its predecessors and I am pleased to be present today to pay tribute to their service,” said Rear Admiral Barrett
808 Squadron will be based at the Naval Air Station, HMAS Albatross and its air craft will operate from the Navy’s amphibious and afloat support ships such as HMA Ships Success, Tobruk and Choules.
In the future, these aircraft will also operate from the Navy’s new 27,000-tonne Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious ships Canberra and Adelaide.
Still images from the commissioning ceremony and of 808 Squadron personnel operating the MRH 90 aircraft will be available later today from the Defence Image Gallery at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20130706
Vision from the commissioning ceremony, together with interviews and file vision of the MRH 90 aircraft in operation will be fed to Parliament House later this afternoon.
Live and recorded radio interviews with Commanding Officer of 808 Squadron Commander Charles Stephenson can be arranged on request.
Lieutenant Andrew Herring 0410 456 676
Ms Dallas McMaugh (02) 4424 3149 or 0428 671 519
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999