Home' Navy News : November 8th 2012 Contents 0409726263
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November 8, 2012
CMDR Fenn Kemp
ANOTHER small but significant
milestone was reached last month
for Project AIR 9000 Phase 8, the
Seahawk Romeo project.
At Sikorsky Aircraft
Corporation's production facility
in Troy, Alabama, the first of 24
RAN MH-60R Seahawk Romeos
was inducted onto the production
line on October 1.
Although not as spectacular
as a ship launch or keel-laying
ceremony, this milestone marked
the start of a production program
which will result in the RAN
being equipped with the world's
most advanced anti-submarine and
anti-surface warfare helicopter.
Each Romeo is manufactured
in a 14-month long, three-stage
Initial airframe assembly
occurs at Troy and takes approxi-
mately 15 weeks.
The airframe is then trucked
to Sikorsky's final assembly line
in Stratford, Connecticut, where
engines, gearboxes, rotor blades
and a basic avionics suite are fitted.
After about five months
at Stratford, the aircraft is then
flown to Lockheed Martin's pro-
duction facility in Owego, New
York, where it is fitted with the
mission systems, sensors and
It is anticipated the RAN's
first two aircraft will be offered
for Commonwealth acceptance in
mid-December next year ahead of
in-service date being declared in
The aircraft will bear the tail
numbers N48-001 and N48-002,
with side numbers 901 and 902
Romeos on production line
By LCDR Joel Hissink
THE scientific officer at the Submarine
and Underwater Medicine Unit, John
Pennefather, has completed 40 years of
service to the Navy.
ADF Surgeon General and head of
Joint Health Command RADM Robyn
Walker attended a morning tea at HMAS
Penguin on October 2 to present him
with a long-service award and a com-
RADM Walker, a previous OIC of
the unit, said Mr Pennefather was held
in high regard among diving and subma-
rine medical communities all over the
world and continued to be asked for his
opinion on a diverse range of underwater
"John's 40 years of service and dedi-
cation to the continuing improvement of
diving and submariner safety is unparal-
leled and is an admirable achievement,"
Mr Pennefather said he was embar-
rassed by the award, but grateful that
"people made a fuss".
"It was especially nice that RADM
Walker was able to participate as I
enjoyed working with her earlier in her
career," he said.
He said one of the highlights of his
career was helping to take the testing of
the tower escape system in the Collins-
class submarines to the stage where peo-
ple conducted escapes.
As a young physiologist with an inter-
est in animal climate physiology, and hav-
ing studied the oxygen consumption of
grazing sheep, Mr Pennefather sent a let-
ter addressed to the "The RAN, Canberra"
outlining his design idea for a closed cir-
cuit rebreather diving set in 1972.
The letter reached the unit and Mr
Pennefather was invited to discuss his
ideas. Soon after he was offered a job as
the unit's scientific officer.
One of his first projects was working
on a new oxygen diving set design in the
He also conducted research that
found that clearance diver trainees were
burning more energy than they received,
which lead to increased food rations and
more sleep while on course.
He co-authored the highly regarded
diving medicine textbook, Diving and
Subaquatic Medicine, which is now in
its fourth edition and regularly consulted
by diving physicians across the globe.
He has investigated hundreds of military
and civilian diving accidents and has
provided design advice on diving and
hyperbaric-related equipment ranging
from portable two-man recompression
chambers to methods to keep live fish
fresh during transit.
He has investigated hundreds of mili-
tary and civilian diving accidents and has
provided design advice on diving and
He has taught divers about physi-
ology and has educated every medical
officer and underwater medic in various
aspects of underwater medicine.
GOOD JOB: RADM Robyn Walker
presents John Pennefather with his
STATE OF ART: Images of the
Seahawk Romeo. The Romeo is a
proven capability currently operated
by the US Navy. The first of the
RAN Romeos hit the production
line in the US on October 1.
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