Shark 02 remembered on HMAS Tobruk
10 April 2015
Personnel on board HMAS Tobruk have paused from humanitarian relief efforts in Vanuatu to mark the 10th anniversary of the Navy Sea King helicopter crash.
The Sea King crashed on the island of Nias, Indonesia, on 2 April 2005 and claimed the lives of nine ADF personnel.
The helicopter, callsign "Shark 02" from 817 Squadron at HMAS Albatross, was undertaking humanitarian assistance after an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra claimed hundreds of lives. The earthquake occurred in March 2005, several months after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami.
HMAS Tobruk's Commanding Officer, Commander Leif Maxfield, said it was especially significant to mark the anniversary of the tragedy as his ship was engaged in humanitarian assistance for Operation Pacific Assist 2015.
"Even though many on board Tobruk were not in the ADF when this accident occurred, it is essential we never forget the sacrifice these brave men and women made while trying to help others," Commander Maxfield said.
The ceremony was organised by Chief Petty Officer Carl Stewart who, as a young seaman, had worked alongside the members of Shark 02 during their initial training on the AS350 Squirrel helicopter.
"I had the honour to share many special moments with them. They were great blokes who loved flying, serving the Navy and helping others," he said.
CPO Stewart said that out of the tragedy, aircraft maintenance standards had greatly improved.
"Their deaths were not in vain. As a result of the Board of Inquiry findings into the accident, important safety enhancements have been made to aviation practices across the ADF," he said.
"I believe that from their deaths, many other lives have been saved."
The Sea King crash claimed the lives of six Navy and three Air Force personnel – Lieutenant Matthew Davey, Lieutenant Matthew Goodall, Lieutenant Paul Kimlin, Lieutenant Jonathan King, Petty Officer Stephen Slattery, Leading Seaman Scott Bennet, Squadron Leader Paul McCarthy, Flight Lieutenant Lynne Rowbottom and Sergeant Wendy Jones.