HMAS Toowoomba’s embarked MH-60R helicopter, call sign ‘Nightmare’, was critical in conducting ship-to-shore movement recently in the southern Arabian Gulf.
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Usually, Toowoomba would rely on international port visits in the area to conduct logistical, resupply and respite operations, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, there has come a need for innovation to ensure resupply can continue.
To ensure Toowoomba continued to conduct its mission in the Middle East, Commanding Officer HMAS Toowoomba Commander Mitchell Livingstone called on Nightmare to “stretch its wings”, reported Navy Daily.
“The Romeo helicopter provides a suite of options when trying to maintain capability and morale on operations and this was an example of one of its many roles,” CMDR Livingstone said.
HMAS Toowoomba's embarked MH-60R helicopter delivers priority stores and mail onto Toowoomba's flight deck after flying from Australia's main operating base in the Middle East Region.
“Nightmare transferred approximately two tonnes of mail and essential stores over six flights during the day time activity,” CMDR Livingstone said.
“Without support from the shore, our ability to sustain operations for prolonged periods is nearly impossible.”
A key event was the underslung carriage, or vertical replenishment, of a full pallet load of stores and equipment required for urgent defect rectification.
Toowoomba’s Flight Commander, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Hudson, said it was no mean feat for what is traditionally a combat helicopter.
“The transit covered approximately 40 nautical miles and was likely the longest VERTREP (vertical replenishment) a Navy Seahawk Romeo has conducted,” LCDR Hudson said.
“It is a fantastic example of the flexibility in which an organic aircraft can offer in order to provide continued operational capability.”
The delivery of 22 bags of mail for the ship’s company was also warmly received with liberty restrictions in place since the introduction of COVID-19 quarantine measures.
Able Seaman Mahalia Ellis was extremely grateful for a care package she received from a Navy Cadet unit in Australia and welcomed the morale boost, as the mail brought smiles to the faces of many on board.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a care package in the mail today, it was such a nice surprise and it really made my day,” AB Ellis said.
HMAS Toowoomba is deployed to the Middle East region in support of both the International Maritime Security Construct and the Combined Maritime Forces.