26-Sep-2016 Source: Australian Navy
Two survivors were located by Perth’s MH-60R helicopter, call sign ‘Hellcat’, and were recovered by a civilian yacht.
The support provided to the rescue mission marked the first occasion that an Australian Navy MH-60R whilst on an operational deployment has been used in such a mission.
Perth had been conducting a logistics and crew respite visit to the island town of Port Victoria, Seychelles when the Seychelles Maritime Safety Agency made the support request.
Seychelles Maritime Safety Agency Director, Captain Joachim Valmont said a fishing vessel capsized during a night crossing between the islands of Praslin and La Digue, some 45 km northwest of Port Victoria.
It was late night and there were six people in the water. Perth immediately initiated recall procedures, launching her helicopterat first light.
Perth’s New Zealand Exchange Officer and officer-of-the-day throughout the mission was Sub Lieutenant Jeffrey Handcock.
“It’s days like this that validate the extensive training it takes to be an officer-of-the-day,” Sub Lieutant Handcock said.
“The MH60R’s sophisticated sensors and communications meant we provided the much needed coordination and search assistance.
“Hellcatfound two survivors, an infant and an adult. The aircrew then directed a local boat to the exact location to complete the recovery.”
The only other survivor from the vessel was the skipper of the vessel who managed to swim ashore.
The ship’s company of Perth were pleased to learn that the survivors recovered in a critical condition have since been stabilised.
Pilot, Lieutenant Benjamin Thomson said to be involved in a life-saving operation was an extremely gratifying experience.
“I am just so pleased that we were able to detect the remaining personnel in the nick of time.”
Captain Valmont thanked Perth on behalf of the Seychelles Government highlighting that the Royal Australian Navy played a key role in supporting the rescue.
Perth resumed its counter-terrorist mission following the search and rescue operation.