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April 29, 2010
By LAC Aaron Curran
IT IS common knowledge that a
mongrel can be loyal, reliable and
resilient and for a dog they are fine
HMAS Stuart has its own mon-
grel and one that outshines even the
best of the breeds. It is not a canine
- it is the ship's Seahawk helicopter,
This helicopter served the ship
brilliantly during its deployment
in the MEAO as part of Operation
SLIPPER, and in the process broke
the record for the most flying hours
conducted while deployed.
To date, it has flown more than
400 hours in the theatre alone and up
to 500 hours since the ship deployed
in October 2009.
It is thanks to the maintenance
personnel from the ship's flight that
this milestone was reached. They
took the extraordinary step of chang-
ing and adjusting the maintenance
routine - within the current guide-
lines -- which enabled the Mongrel to
accumulate these huge hours and not
miss one days flying due to planned
For HMAS Stuart's flight com-
mander, LCDR Mark Massie and his
aircrew, that meant their increased
capability and availability to the ship
"I have never flown this amount
of hours on deployment before,"
LCDR Massie said.
"Due to the ability to fly con-
stantly, we were able to hone certain
skills during this deployment - sur-
face search, logistics and just fly-
ing to and from the deck. One pilot
in the Stuart each month clocked
up more than all of his flying hours
combined before this deployment."
The maintenance personnel came
up with a novel way of keeping the
Mongrel airborne. LSATA Dylan
Ewart said that with the Seahawk,
every 190 hours a major service
must be done. When that service is
due it can ground the aircraft for up
to six weeks.
They developed a phased serv-
ice where the crew basically worked
around the clock, doing the servicing
in dribs and drabs and that way the
aircraft was available each morning.
"For the big items that would take
the aircraft down for a few days we
would do it in port," LSATA Ewart
"We just felt that putting the
aircraft down for six weeks during
operations was no good."
Historically, for every hour of
flying there are 45 hours of mainte-
nance required. The Stuart dropped
that down to 35 hours -- a great
The ship's mission and the enor-
mous area it covered during the
deployment required the Mongrel to
fly substantial hours.
"Normally you do one major
service on a deployment," LCDR
"We structured our maintenance
so we could do two and the main-
tainers worked hard for that extra
one. It took a lot of planning, for-
ward thinking and pre-positioning
of stores, especially considering we
would be off the coast of Somalia
where logistics presented a prob-
lem. The plan worked well and kept
the aircraft available for operational
During the Stuart's six month
deployment the Mongrel was never
off line due to the maintenance per-
sonnel's commitment and dedication
to their task.
"The maintenance crew worked
very closely and supported each
other all the way through the deploy-
ment," LCDR Massie said.
"It was a fantastic feeling; every-
one worked hard and I am real proud
SERVICING: ABATA Crystal
Collis conducts maintenance on
the Seahawk helicopter.
'Mongrel' birdies drag
down hangar time
WELCOME ABOARD: LEUT Peter
Shirley greets foreign VIPs on
board HMAS Stuart. The ship was
in port for DIMDEX 2010 in Doha.
Aussies on show at DIMDEX
HMAS Stuart (CMDR Andrew Masters)
showcased the RAN to the world at the
2nd Doha International Maritime Defence
Exhibition and Conference 2010 (DIMDEX
2010), in Qatar.
The conference attracted ships from up to
15 nations navies including Australia, UK,
United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,
Oman, Turkey and India.
The event featured a trade show with the
latest naval technology and equipment dem-
onstrations; a sports tournament; visits from
VIPs, the public and trade professionals to
ships and an eight-ship official reception.
CO Stuart, CMDR Andrew Masters said it
was important for the ship and its crew to be
"It's the first RAN involvement in Doha
for DIMDEX," he said.
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