“The 19.76 metre long tiger-striped Seahawk will be installed just in time for winter school holidays and is bound to be a huge hit with aircraft and navy fans of all ages,” comments Kevin Sumption, Australian Maritime Museum Director.
The striking S-70B Seahawk is painted with Tiger stripes to reflect the 816 Squadron Crest, which depicts the head of a Bengal tiger, with the motto, 'Imitate the Action of the Tiger' drawn from William Shakespeare's 'Henry V'.
Over the course of its 29-year career, N24-006/875 made multiple deployments to the Middle East and other international trouble spots, notes Sumption: “It was also one of two Seahawks aboard HMAS Newcastle that participated in the search and rescue operation associated with the ill-fated 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race. 2019 is the 75th anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart and that’s just one of the reasons we felt it should be on display.”
The Seahawk is joining the Museum’s permanent collection, offering a dramatic renewal opportunity for the Navy Gallery to represent the Navy’s role in civilian rescue operations.
The Seahawk replaces the older Westland Wessex helicopter, which will be transferred to the Australian War Memorial, most importantly ensuring it remains in a national collection as an integral chapter in Australian Navy history.
The complex and breathtaking de-install of the Wessex helicopter, and installation of the Seahawk is taking place from Monday 1 July to Saturday 6 July. Visitors to the Museum may be able to catch glimpses from the Tasman Light Gallery of the helicopter being lifted 10 metres into the air and impressively rigged into place in the 15 metre ceiling space above the Navy Gallery.
The Museum is grateful to the Royal Australian Navy for adding this exciting piece of naval history into the Australian National Maritime Collection.
Some galleries will be affected during this time to allow for the installation, namely the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and Navy Gallery, which will be momentarily closed from Monday 1 July to Saturday 6 July, reopening 6 July if not beforehand.
For more information on closed galleries and viewing the exciting installation, please visit www.sea.museum/seahawk
• Time-lapse footage of the install is being captured and will be supplied on Thursday 4 July, and available on the Museum’s website.
• By arrangement there are opportunities to take footage and stills of the install, as well as the brand new Seahawk in place before it is open to the public.
• High res images can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fg6hptu7ub2a3cs/AABuotkNLL7pSmG2lmw2BBmra?dl=0
The installation and display of the Seahawk helicopter was proudly sponsored by Australian Company Nova Systems and Lockheed Martin Australia.
Notes to the editor:
The S-70B model Seahawks were introduced at a time when the Wessex was being decommissioned, so they are in essence a 'next step' in the evolution of the Fleet Air Arm's helicopter inventory (bearing in mind that Sea King helicopters had been introduced in the 1970s to assume the anti-submarine role held by the Wessex during the height of the Cold War). Whereas the RAN’s anti-submarine and search-and-rescue roles were split between the Wessex and Sea King aircraft during the 1970s and 80s, the Seahawk assumed both roles—and others—and became the Fleet Air Arm’s ‘all-rounder’…a distinction it continues to enjoy today (in the form of the next-generation MH-60R variants).
The Sydney to Hobart
The 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is the 75th since the first running in 1945. The Race for the 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is expected to attract a fleet of 135-140 for this anniversary. One of the most tragic and controversial in its history, was the 1998 race, which was the 54th annual running of this blue water classic. Conditions that year were particularly treacherous in Bass Strait off South Gabo Island, just past the NSW border. That year the crew of this helicopter operating off HMAS Newcastle, c many brave rescues, however the 40 to 50 knot winds tragically claimed six lives and sunk five yachts.
RAN Seahawk helicopters
• Currently form the backbone of the Fleet Air Arm, and have been the RAN’s primary helicopter asset since the late 1980s. All sixteen S-70B variants have been retired and are being replaced by the MH-60R model (24 have been ordered).
• The Seahawk’s primary roles are anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. Secondary missions include search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.
• Originally a Royal Navy anti-submarine warfare squadron established in 1939. It was re-established as a RAN unit in 1948, and has operated a variety of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.
• Aircraft from 816 Squadron have served in the Second World War, Korean War, Gulf War and War in Iraq, as well as military operations in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Fiji and the Horn of Africa. Significantly, squadron assets were aboard the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (II) during its collisions with HMAS Voyager (II) and USS Frank E. Evans.
• Over the course of its 29-year career, N24-006/875 made multiple deployments to the Middle East and other international trouble spots.
• It was one of two Seahawks aboard HMAS Newcastle that participated in the search and rescue operation associated with the ill-fated 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race, and the last S-70B-2 variant to complete an operational deployment.
• Tiger 75 was formally retired from service shortly thereafter and repainted in its current tiger-stripe scheme (which was originally used during its delivery to Australia) in November 2018.