Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02) embarked two MV-22B Osprey military aircraft onboard and successfully moved the Osprey off the flight deck into the hangar for the first time at sea during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. The MV-22B’s will operate from Canberra for the duration of RIMPAC in another first for the ship. HMAS Canberra has embarked two MV-22B Osprey Military Aircraft and their crew onboard, flying onto the deck during the first week of the sea phase of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. The aircraft are onboard for the duration of the tactical phase and are one in many types of helicopters to land and take off from Canberra’s flight deck during the exercise. A team of staff from the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit (AMAFTU) have embarked for RIMPAC and, in a first for Canberra, the aircraft have been moved and stowed onboard.
Australian Army Major David Ellson said,”What the unit is achieving has taken some work by AMAFTU to get to this point but is important for future capability and a great achievement to see. This is the first time at sea we have taken a MV-22B down from the flight deck onto the elevator lift and into the hangar. It all forms part of the trials for AMAFTU to enable coalition aircraft to routinely embark on our ships. The evolution to move and stow the MV-22B involved approximately ten crew and provided an opportunity for AMAFTU and the MV-22B crew to observe which is what this phase of RIMPAC is about, the interchangeability between Australia and coalition nations such as the United States. By having the Osprey’s crew onboard they can undertake maintenance and we can see what our endurance is to support the aircraft for short, medium and longer term embarkations.”
HMAS Canberra (L02) is the first ship of the Canberra-class landing helicopter dock in service with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and is the second largest in the Navy, succeeded by its sister ship HMAS Adelaide (L01). The Canberra class design is based on the warship Juan Carlos I, built by Navantia for the Spanish Navy. The LHDs will transport 1,046 soldiers and their equipment. Canberra will be capable of deploying a reinforced company of up to 220 soldiers at a time by airlift. Two vehicle decks (one for light vehicles, the other for heavy vehicles and tanks) have areas of 1,880 square metres (20,200 sq ft) and 1,410 square metres (15,200 sq ft) respectively, and between them can accommodate up to 110 vehicles. A mix of MRH-90 transport helicopters and Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters will be carried: up to eight can be stored in the hangar deck, and the light vehicle deck can be repurposed to fit another ten.
Canberra has not only embarked the two aircraft but their pilots, ground crew and maintainers. The 25 members are living onboard and integrating into life with fellow Aussies. The exercises onboard with the MV-22B’s will identify how Australian landing helicopter docks can support the aircraft for extended periods of time. HMAS Canberra will continue to conduct air operations at sea with international partners and allies as part of RIMPAC 2022. Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, three submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.