Anticipation fills the helicopter air detachment’s briefing room in HMCS Vancouver as Air Detachment Commander Major Peter Tomlik briefs his team on the upcoming flight plan. It’s June 24, 2022, and Vancouver is sailing with a number of foreign navies making their way to Hawaii for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022.
It’s a day likely to be etched into the memory of pilot Captain Dan Simpson – he’s about to land Vancouver’s embarked CH-148 Cyclone (Sikorsky S-92) helicopter on a foreign navy vessel for the first time. But this isn’t just a first for Captain Simpson, it’s also a first for the CH-148 fleet: landing on a Type 23 frigate, the Chilean Navy’s CNS Almirante Lynch.
Four pips sound across the ship’s broadcast – flying stations!
Captain Simpson, from Ladner BC, has been flying with the Royal Canadian Air Force for seven years and has previous experience flying as an air cadet. This is also his second deployment on board an HMC Ship with the Cyclone. It was that experience he drew upon to help land on Almirante Lynch.
“There are a lot of differences between the vessels – almost all of the references and line-up features are different on foreign vessels. Seeing dozens of faces on the upper decks with cameras and recording devices while landing added a little bit of extra pressure,” he said. “But with a lot of studying the references and a strong pre-flight brief, we were able to do it safely and effectively.”
Once Captain Simpson and crew landed on the Chilean frigate, they were able to get out and meet their counterparts on Almirante Lynch face-to-face and exchange morale patches before taking off and returning to Vancouver.
“It was awesome; it was special to see the smiles and excitement on the faces of the ships’ companies as we landed. I’m still buzzing about it,” says Captain Simpson. “It’s an incredible feeling to put loads of work into something and have it work without a hitch. The professionalism of the Chilean Navy was impressive.”
On Sunday, June 26, as part of the cross-deck evolutions during the group sail, Almirante Lynch’s helicopter landed on the flight deck of HMCS Vancouver. Cross-deck training is conducted to increase interoperability between Maritime Helicopter crews.
HMCS Vancouver and its embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter are participating in RIMPAC in and around the Hawaiian Islands from June 29 to Aug. 4.