NAVAL AVIATION - No. 6 SQUADRON
Naval Aviation: Naval aviation comprises a mix of Navy and Air Force personnel who operate and maintain a fleet of eight Kaman SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopters and a simulator, known as No. 6 Squadron (6 SQN).
6 SQN is based at RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai and is one of the force elements under the command of the Air Component Commander (ACC), Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand.
The helicopters are deployed from RNZAF Base Auckland to Navy ships TE KAHA, TE MANA, CANTERBURY, OTAGO and WELLINGTON. When onboard TE KAHA and TE MANA the aircraft fulfil a combat and surveillance role as well as providing transport and vertical replenishment capability. When deployed onboard CANTERBURY, OTAGO and WELLINGTON the aircraft are primarily tasked to provide surveillance, reconnaissance, transport and vertical replenishment capabilities.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has flown Seasprite helicopters since 1998 with the then Kaman SH-2F and the SH-2G(NZ) since 2001. In 2016, the NZDF transitioned to the “I” variant.
The Super Seasprite is one of the most technologically advanced helicopters in the world. Manufactured by Kaman Aerosystems, the Super Seasprite SH-2G "I" variant was delivered to the Ministry of Defence and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 14 April 2016. The Kaman Super Seasprite helicopter is the third variant to serve in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Commander Owen Rodger, RNZN
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The Kaman SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite is an advanced maritime weapon system and proven day/night/all-weather multi-mission helicopter. Originally designed to meet the exacting requirements of the U.S. Navy, the SH-2G Super Seasprite has the highest power-to-weight ratio of any maritime helicopter, assuring a safe return-to-ship capability even in single-engine flight conditions.
It is the largest, most powerful small ship helicopter in use today and is recognized for its mission effectiveness, support, and unmatched performance. The SH-2G is currently operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Egyptian Air Force and the Polish Navy.
Its robust design, outstanding stability, and excellent reliability have been proven through more than 1.5 million flight hours. The SH-2G is a multi-mission maritime weapon system designed to fulfill anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), over the horizon targeting, surveillance, troop transport, vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and utility missions.
6 Squadron regularly supports the operations of other government agencies.
The SH-2G Super Seasprite are manufactured by Kaman Aerosystems a division of the aerospace segment of Kaman Corporation (NYSE:KAMN), which was founded in 1945 by aviation pioneer Charles H. Kaman and is headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, USA. www.kaman.com.
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Air Crew and Ground Crew
The Navy's helicopters are crewed by Navy personnel and maintained by Air Force personnel.
- Navy pilots, trained by the RNZAF, fly and crew the Super Seasprite helicopters
- Navy Observers, trained by the Royal Australian Navy, manage the mission
- Navy Helicopter Loadmaster (HLM), trained by the RNZAF, perform varied tasks onboard from rescue hoists to aerial photography, load lifting and vertical replenishment
- Technicians from the RNZAF maintain the helicopters and are required to go to sea onboard HMNZ Ships
- Surface and underwater warfare operations
- Surveillance and reconnaissance
- Search and Rescue (day and night)
- Vertical and cross-deck replenishment (delivery services/logistics)
- Causality evacuation
- Interception and boarding
- Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief
- Support for other government agencies, including Police, Primary Industries, Customs and Department of Conservation
- Pilot, observer and loadmaster training for the Navy
- Weight (max take-off): 6 tonnes
- Beam: 3 metres (main rotor diameter 13.5 metres)
- Height: 4.09 metres
- Length: 16 metres
- Speed: 120 knots (operating a max 150 knots)
- Range: 450 nautical miles (endurance 3.5 hours)
- Complement: 3 crew, (pilot, observer and loadmaster) plus four passengers
- Evacuation: One stretcher and one attendant
Can be armed with a combination of:
- Homing torpedoes
- Penguin air-to-ship missiles
- MAG58 machine gun
- Two General Electric T700 Turbines (1600 hp each)
Badge - Squadron Crest
6 SQN is authorised to use No. 6 Squadron badge approved in 1954 and the motto is Vigilance with Patience.
Present. In 2005, the Chief of Navy and Chief of Air Force agreed to change the command structure for naval aviation and designate the Naval Support Flight as an independent RNZAF squadron on 31 October 2005. The new RNZAF's new squadron is to be know as No. 6 Squadron.
6 SQN was formed initially at Milson in February 1942 as an Army co-operation squadron. Its was disbanded and reformed in May 1943 in Fiji as No. 6 Squadron, operating Catalina aircraft. Disbanded again at the end of the WW2, was reformed again in April 1952 at Hobsonville as No. 6 (Maritime) Squadron operating Catalinas, then Sunderlands from 1955. It was again disbanded in August 1957 and then re-established in 2005 with the role of providing helicopter support to the Royal New Zealand Navy bringing back the maritime aviation heritage of the unit.
Past. New Zealand Naval Aviation was born during the First World War, when volunteers served with Royal Naval Air Squadrons under the RNZNVR scheme. During the Second World War, New Zealand volunteers again joined the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm and saw action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.
In 1936 organic air power (i.e. flown and supported from aboard ship) was introduced to New Zealand when HMS ACHILLES and her aircraft became the first New Zealand ship to conduct regular maritime aviation. Along with HMS LEANDER, these ships operated catapult-launched Walrus fixed wing aircraft, which were stationed at Hobsonville when not embarked.
No. 3 Squadron RNZAF was formed as a territorial unit in Christchurch in 1930, and by 1938 was flying Baffins, and later Vincents, serving in Guadalcanal during WW2 and was the first RNZAF Squadron to engage the Japanese during WW2. After the war the Squadron operated Tiger Moths, Harvards and Mustangs before disbanding in 1957.
It reformed in 1965 as the first RNZAF Helicopter Squadron, flying the Sioux and the Iroquois helicopters at Hobsonville. In 1966, No. 3 Squadron took delivery of several Westland HAS Mk1 Wasp helicopters, which served with distinction on all Leander Class Frigates over the next 32 years.
Naval Support Flight (NSF) formed as a part of No. 3 Squadron in 1977 and continued to fly the Wasp helicopter service until 1998. Then the Kaman SH-2F Seasprite, operated for three years whilst the SH-2G(NZ) Seasprite helicopters were being built, replaced the aircraft. In April 2013, the government approved the purchase of an upgraded and expanded Seasprite helicopter fleet for the NZDF - the SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopter.
In July 1998, Naval Support Flight moved from their historic home at Hobsonville to the Whenuapai air base and on 31 October 2005, was reformed as No. 6 Squadron, RNZAF.
Naval aviation have been involved in a number of operations:
- Multi-nation Interdiction Force (1980's, 1996, 1999)
- Bougainville and Papua New Guinea (1990's)
- East Timor (1999-2000)
- Solomon Islands (2000, 2001)
- Operation Enduring Freedom (2002, 2003, 2004)
Recent Activities - 2019
Ships and aircrafts are complex pieces of kit, packed with hard-working sailors - all of whom need some time alongside once in a while.
January: Christmas leave period
February: Ahoy Waitangi school visits; Waitangi Day flypast at Waitangi
March: 1x Seasprite embarked in HMNZS WELLINGTON for Kermadec Islands resupply