HMAS Canberra: On time, on target

Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 has provided a plethora of opportunities for interoperability between the Australian Defence Force and the 25 participating nations.

CAPTION: Sub Lieutenant Thomas Watson keeps watch on the bridge of HMAS Canberra during Exercise RIMPAC 2022. Story by Lieutenant Nancy Cotton. Photo by Leading Seaman Matthew Lyall.

But it’s not every day that the United States Navy contacts your ship to say “kudos to the bridge crew” for planning highly complex movements down to the exact second.

Maritime Warfare Officer Sub Lieutenant Thomas Watson was officer of the watch for flying serials between HMAS Canberra and the United States Navy’s MH-60S helicopters that day.

“Essentially I was responsible for writing a program for the safe execution of the flying serials to ensure the ship was in the right position and state to execute the operation,” Sub Lieutenant Watson said.

“I have to set the ship up to facilitate the flying, as well as implement procedures to make sure the ship is in the correct position, accounting for the wind so that we are in the correct safe helicopter operating limit in order to launch and recover the aircraft.”

Canberra currently has two United States MV-22B Osprey Military Aircraft embarked for RIMPAC and is participating in multiple air operations with international partners during the sea phase of the exercise, enabling the recovery and launch of various aircraft from different nations.

Sub Lieutenant Watson said it’s great to see the interoperability between the countries taking part during RIMPAC.

“It strengthens our relationships which puts us in a stronger position moving forward,” Sub Lieutenant Watson said.

“After the flying operation that day, I received an email from our navigator who forwarded the message from our American friends stating that at the time the helo was hovering over our deck to land, their GPS position and reader was at the exact latitude and longitude position at exactly the right time to the second that was planned.

“We were always going to be within a close range as that comes down to the planning, but to be precisely in the right place at the right time down to the second is pretty awesome.

“I’d like to say it was all skill, but I think a bit of good luck played its part.”

Canberra will continue to conduct flying operations over the course of RIMPAC, building on interoperability and interchangeability with the 25 other nations participating in the world’s largest maritime exercise.






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