As NUSQN 725 the unit was stood up in February 2013, tasked with introducing the MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ into service, and will be the Fleet Air Arm’s training squadron for the new type, which is replacing the Navy’s current S-70B-2 ‘classic’ Seahawks. Current S-70B operating unit 816 Squadron will become the Romeo’s operational squadron once it completes its transition to the MH-60R.
A total of 24 Romeo helicopters are being delivered under the $3.2 billion Air 9000 Phase 8 project to acquire a new naval combat helicopter. To date 11 Romeos have been accepted into service, with deliveries running on budget and ahead of schedule.
“I congratulate the men and women of 725 Squadron and the Fleet Air Arm, who have worked tirelessly preparing for this next phase,” Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said in a speech at the commissioning ceremony.
“They have undergone extensive training, trials and preparation to ensure the aircraft and personnel are fit and ready for service.”
The Romeo has already been involved in first-of-class flight trials aboard Anzac frigate HMAS Perth, and is on track to achieve initial operational capability at sea in August.
“The Romeo has already demonstrated great prowess as the maritime combat helicopter of the Royal Australian Navy,” Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer said.
“Now 725 Squadron, and in the future 816 Squadron, will take this very capable aircraft even further and will join with the surface and subsurface elements of the Fleet in forming a networked sea control team.”
725 Squadron was initially formed as a Royal Navy unit in the Second World War. It was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1958 as a fleet requirements and communications squadron – the following year it was redesignated as an anti-submarine warfare training unit – and would initially operate a mixed fleet of C-47 Dakota, Auster, Sea Fury, Firefly and Gannet aircraft.
Between 1962 and 1975 725 Squadron operated the Westland Wessex in the ASW training role, during which time it was involved in search and rescue efforts during the HMAS Voyager disaster, flying ASW patrols from HMAS Sydney during that ship’s troop transport runs to Vietnam, and rescue efforts during the Nowra floods and following Darwin’s Cyclone Tracy, both in 1974.
“We pride ourselves on being a team of highly professional, focused and committed men and women. We share these qualities with those who have gone before us and we very much look to carrying on the proud heritage of 725 Squadron,” 725SQN commanding officer Commander David Frost said at the commissioning ceremony.
“It’s an absolute honour that 40 years after the last 725 Squadron de-commissioned, we are joined by original members and commanding officers of 725 who set the bar very high.”