Royal Australian Navy helicopters have started the initial phase of deck handling trials on the newly commissioned HMAS Canberra, marking the beginning of the Naval Operational Test and Evaluation programme.
The trials involve an MRH-90 from 808 Squadron and an S-70B-2 Seahawk from 816 Squadron.
Scheduled to be carried out over the next several months, the trials are aimed at providing the new LHD with the operational authorisations to launch, recover and secure helicopters, day and night.
Flight Deck Officer lieutenant Paul Coxell said: "These first landings were a significant event for both the Air Department and the ship as a whole.
"It is the first time in over 30 years that the navy has had such a platform that enables air operations on a grand scale, with six landing spots and a hangar with workshops able to accommodate up to eight aircraft.
"While the Air Department is at the forefront to ensure the landings are successful, it should be highlighted that this was a whole ship effort with many of the officers and sailors working behind the scenes to ensure the ship was in readiness to accept the aircraft."
Members of the Air Department will need to work alongside the Aviation Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit to prepare for the certification of deck handling procedures.
The recently commissioned 27,000t LHDs are capable of handling combat situations and humanitarian emergencies, in addition to transporting military equipment and aviation units.
Image: The RAN’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopter during its deck handling trials on HMAS Canberra. Photo: courtesy of RAN.