Home' Navy News : August 5th 2010 Contents NAVY NEWS
August 5, 2010
By Michael Brooke
TUCKED away in scrubland at
HMAS Stirling is the Helicopter
Support Facility (HSF), which is
staffed by a highly motivated team
of senior and junior sailors who are
always ready for the challenge of
receiving 'unexpected' rotary-wing
CPO Steven Searle, Manager HSF,
said his team had achieved numerous
milestones in demonstrating their abil-
ity to receive and support Navy, Army,
WA police and civilian helicopters at
very short notice.
"We are always ready to accept an
aircraft at anytime without much warn-
ing," he said.
"Quite often we receive Seahawks
coming back from Gulf deployments
to conduct maintenance, all in the
space of two or three days."
The HSF's most recent milestone
was to receive and support three
helicopters from 816 Squadron for
Exercise Double Trouble, which was
the URE/work-up for HMA Ships
Collins and Dechaineux.
"The challenge here was not only
to accommodate three Seahawks in
the limited hanger space we have, but
also to support their air and ground
crews so the aircraft were operational
straight away," CPO Searle said.
"We only had two weeks notice to
support the helicopters and the 94 per-
sonnel from 816 Squadron who came
Supporting 816 Squadron for
Collins and Dechainuex's URE/work-
up also meant juggling tons of logis-
tics supplies, including collecting and
accommodating some 600 sonar buoys
which were used against the subma-
Additionally, the Seahawks brought
four containers of equipment and
spares for the 15 days they participated
in the exercise.
"With only a small staff of four,
including a Gap Year sailor, we
worked around the clock to support
the Seahawks for this important ASW
exercise," CPO Searle said.
CPO Searle praised the small but
dedicated team for their achievements
because the HSF had not supported
that many Navy helicopters since
"This was a milestone achievement
for us because this task only came up
in the past couple of weeks, now that
we have three submarines ready for
sea," he said.
"Normally, this kind of opera-
tion is conducted during ASWEX in
November or December, which gives
us more time to build up to the task."
The 816 Squadron support task
came hard on the heels of the HSF
assisting HMAS Toowoomba with its
aviation audit and a clean up of the
hangers following flooding during a
recent heavy deluge.
The HSF team includes ABATAs
Andrew Gilmour and Filipo Macri,
who are hard-pressed to manage the
many amendments to the flying and
maintenance manuals, which measure
more than two metres in height.
"We have about 240 publications
which we are currently in the process
of converting to soft copy," ABATA
"We get 5cm of amendments for
the maintenance manuals every fort-
"Amending the manual requires
a 100 per cent page check that just
blows away our time for other tasks.
Some of the books are 400-pages and
some manuals are four volumes."
ABATA Gilmour said some sailors
thought it was a really 'cruisy' posting
because the HSF was on an island.
"But the amount of work we do
here is really unbelievable," he said. "I
thought I was going on a holiday until
I got here and was inundated with jobs
Seahawks nest at HSF
Squadron personnel and
aviation support staff at
the Helicopter Support
Facility at HMAS Stirling.
Photo: ABIS Lincoln Commane
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