Home' Navy News : December 8th 2011 Contents December 8, 2011
817 Squadron and Sea Kings decommission
privilege to come through as the
g pilot to be converted onto the
and I'll be glad to be part of the
decommissioning ceremonies and see them
through to the end of the year.
-- LEUT Tim Bailie, pilot 817 SQN
last Sea King
It's all about soul
NOTHING quite beats get-
ting out and doing the job
in the Sea Kings for 817
Officer CMDR Paul Moggach.
For CMDR Moggach, an "emo-
tional connection" runs deep with the
helicopters for anyone who flies them.
Taking the remaining three
Sea Kings for their final flight on
December 15 -- flying to Canberra
before returning to base at HMAS
Albatross -- will be a sad moment.
"It's such a wonderful aircraft to
fly. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Yes,
it's hot. It's not modern, but it's an
aircraft with soul. We just love flying
them," CMDR Moggach said.
"It's going to be a sad time for us
when we take that final flight because
we know that it will mark the end of
an era for the Fleet Air Arm and the
"That's sad for us and it's sad for
the organisation, but that's life."
The Sea Kings have been in his
life since he began training in them in
1992, having joined the Navy in 1986.
He assumed command of 817 SQN
in 2009 and has continued the work
of his two predecessors in rebuilding
the squadron since the fallout of the
2005 crash which killed nine people
-- including six Navy personnel -- on
Nias Island, Indonesia.
His focus has also been on with-
drawing the aircraft from service up to
the squadron's decommissioning.
"I've felt particularly privileged
to be in this position at this time. It's
been a significant period," said CMDR
Moggach, who has clocked up more
than 3000 flying hours in the Sea
"It's been the most challenging and
rewarding period I've had in the Navy
-- and I've absolutely loved it.
"Being in command of a squadron
is the culmination of everything I've
learnt about aviation, leadership and
"The rewards are just beyond this
world -- in particular, seeing the pro-
gress of our young sailors being pro-
moted, gaining their qualifications and
skills in their trade."
CMDR Moggach said each squad-
ron member -- from aircrew to main-
tainers -- had played an equally impor-
tant part in 817 SQN's success.
"I have complete faith in the judge-
ment and skill of my team," he said.
Commanding Officer CMDR Paul Moggach will
instantly miss the Sea Kings -- especially 07
By SIMON GLADMAN "I'm particularly impressed with
the attitude, worth ethic and quality of
personnel who work in the squadron.
"When called upon at very short
notice, they step up to the mark and
perform very well."
817 SQN's aircrews and maintain-
ers have repeatedly shown their ability
in responding in civilian emergencies.
More recently, the crew's skills
have been tested in responding to the
Queensland floods and the rescue of
an injured hiker at Lord Howe Island
this year, and support operations fol-
lowing the Padang earthquake in
Indonesia in 2009.
After the Seahawks took over the
anti-submarine warfare role in the
early 1990s, the Sea Kings became the
"Mac truck"of the Navy.
CMDR Moggach said the maritime
support role -- of lifting cargo and peo-
ple -- was crucial to Navy's operations,
although not entirely glamorous.
"The work we do in helping the
community is very satisfying," he said.
"It's a fortunate side effect of our
operational capability that those war-
fare skills can be utilised in support
of our community. What we do at sea
in supporting the operational force is
transferrable into the civilian environ-
"A classic example was the Sydney
to Hobart yacht race rescue in 1998.
You won't see much imagery of the
Sea Kings and Seahawks because they
were doing it at night, out in horren-
dous weather, hauling people out of
life rafts and yachts. Two aircrewmen
were awarded bravery medals for their
Following 817 SQN's decommis-
sioning, CMDR Moggach will leave
flying and move into a staff officer role
at the Directorate of Navy Leadership
and Ethics in Canberra.
Like most who serve in 817 SQN,
he, too, will instantly miss the Sea
"Those who work on the Sea King
feel a real affection for it because it
really is a fantastic machine," he said.
"It's a very capable machine and
each of the aircraft seems to have
their own personality to a degree. We
all have our favourites -- mine is 07,
which is the one we took to the Persian
Gulf in 2003.
"The machines aside, the squad-
ron is not so much about the aircraft,
but it's about the people. That's the
big one. I love this machine, for sure.
They're great to fly. But the biggest
thing I'll miss about the squadron is
Flood Assist in
1963: LCDR R.J.
1965: LCDR D.J. Orr
1966: LCDR F. Hillier
1966: LCDR A.A.H. Evans
1967: LCDR R.A Waddell-
1968: LCDR D.N. Rodgers
1968: LCDR G.A. Thomas,
1968: LCDR D.S. Ferry
1969: LCDR D.N. Rodgers
1970: LCDR A.G. Whitton
1971: LCDR D.C.
1972: LCDR D.G. Debus
1974: LCDR T.S.J.
1975: LCDR I.M. Speedy
1976: CMDR E.S. Bell
1976: LCDR R.K. Waldron
1977: LCDR J.W. Firth
1978: LCDR A.H. Craig
1979: LCDR K.B.
1980: LCDR W.M.
1981: LCDR J.W.J. Nicoll
1983: LCDR H.E. Campey
1984: LCDR K.W. Eames
1984: LCDR R.J. Cooper
1986: LCDR L.N. Phillips
1988: LCDR A.F. Wright
1989: LCDR T. Gorman
1991: LCDR J.H. Edwards
1993: LCDR P.R. Lea
1994: LCDR R.J. Smith
1995: LCDR/CMDR T.W.
1997: LCDR G. Sydney
1999: LCDR/CMDR D.J.
2000: CMDR K.
2003: CMDR J.O. Tobin
2005: CMDR T.R. Leonard
2007: CMDR R.I. Gagnon
2009: CMDR P. Moggach
817 SQN Commanding Officers, 1963-2011
Credit to 817,
LEADING TO THE
Officer CMDR Paul
Photo: LSIS Paul Berry
ONE memory stands out for RADM
Tim Barrett from his time at 817.
As Commanding Officer in
1995-96, he was in the thick of the
action during an Exercise Tandem
Thrust. "I recall living in a tent for
two weeks alongside the runway
at Rockhampton while the aircraft
conducted support to both Army and
Navy," he said.
"It was not something I had imag-
ined I would be doing in a Sea King
when I first joined 817 Squadron."
RADM Barrett, now Commander
of Border Protection Command,
described the Sea King as Navy's
"Sad to see them go. I first joined
the squadron when the Sea King was
in its anti-submarime warfare (ASW)
role. This was a great time and I still
believe the submariners were more
concerned about the 'dippers' than any
other ASW platform at the time," he
"I then returned as CO at a time
when the aircraft underwent major
modifications in 1995. This gave them
a new lease of life and it was a particu-
larly satisfying period.
"The squadron has adapted well
over the years to accommodate its
changing roles. This is of great credit
to the organisation."
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