The Australian Defence Force has announced that a Royal Australian Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo Seahawk helicopter ditched in the Philippine Sea overnight October 13/14, and that the three crew members are safe.
The aircraft, which was embarked aboard the Hobart class destroyer, HMAS Brisbane, was conducting a routine flight as part of a regional presence deployment (RPD) with the ANZAC class frigate HMAS Warramunga, when the crew “conducted an emergency landing in the water”.
The crew was rescued by sea boats from Brisbane some 20 minutes after the ditching, and have required first aid for minor injuries. The vessels are searching for debris, but the aircraft is likely to be a total loss. As a result, the RAN has suspended MH-60R flying operations.
“The successful rescue is credit to the devotion to duty and skill of the officers and sailors of HMAS Brisbane,” Commander of the Australian Fleet, RADM Mark Hammond said in a statement. “Their immediate actions ensured the survival of the aircrew, validating the significant training undertaken in the event an emergency of this nature occurs.
“With the aircrew safe, investigating the circumstances that led to the helicopter ditching is the priority at the moment,” RADM Hammond added. “As a precaution, we have temporarily paused flying operations of the MH-60R Seahawk fleet.”
The RAN operates 24 MH-60Rs with 725 and 816SQNs at Nowra, and at least eight Romeos are embarked aboard RAN ships at sea at any one time. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on October 8 that Australia has been approved to acquire an additional 12 MH-60Rs to augment the existing fleet and to replace the MRH 90 in the maritime logistics role.