Albatross helo plays role in WA rescue

THE Seahawk Romeo Helicopter Black Jack from 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross has played a major role in the rescue of three stricken sailors off the coast of Western Australia.

Onboard the Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Parramatta the helicopter crew rescued three South African sailors from the stricken yacht, Jedi 1, approximately 1300 kilometres southwest of Cape Leeuwin off Western Australia.

The three yachtsmen of the 13-metre yacht activated an emergency response beacon in the Southern Indian Ocean late on Friday (March 17), when their mast was lost in rough seas on a journey from South Africa to New Zealand.

This was a very professionally executed operation, in extremely trying conditions.

HMAS Parramatta commanding officer, Commander Simon Howard

It was their intention to abandon the vessel.

The rescue was coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and to get to the sailors as quickly and safely as possible, the warship was retasked to sail to the yacht’s position.

Parramatta was at sea off the Western Australian coast, and located the yacht after a Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue Challenger jet,  established the yacht’s position in the remote location and provided the crew with communications equipment.

Parramatta’s Seahawk helicopter,  Black Jack,  sighted the yacht late in the afternoon of Saturday (March 18), established communications and assessed the conditions to require rescue by air.

In a heavy south westerly swell, the men were safely rescued by the navy aircrew, by being winched onboard the helicopter before being transferred to Parramatta.

Commanding officer Commander Simon Howard said safety of life at sea underpinned the actions of his ship and his crew.

“This was a very professionally executed operation, in extremely trying conditions,” he said.

“The RAN is well equipped and our personnel highly trained to provide specialist assistance to search and rescue activities in our region.

“We remain ready and able to respond to emergencies.”

Once safely onboard Parramatta the three sailors were assessed as being in good health by the ship’s medical team.

They were provided with clean clothes, food and the opportunity to contact family.

Parramatta steamed to Albany, WA, to disembark the rescued crew and then will continue to other tasking.

Australia has search and rescue responsibility for an area of nearly 53 million square kilometres, which is around one tenth of the world’s surface.