Sunday, April 29, 2018

Onboard tour - Armidale class patrol boat HMAS Wollongong - Gladstone Harbour

Cairns based Armidale class patrol boat HMAS Wollongong (ACPB 92) recently berthed alongside Auckland Point Wharf in Gladstone for a few days of R&R, and while visiting the port city, not only did the ships crew participate in local ANZAC Day 2018 commemorations, but held a Public Open Day on the vessel.
Despite a boat that has been worked extremely hard in recent years, infact, we were informed the vessel spent ten months of 2017 alone on patrol duties, the presentation of HMAS Wollongong was nothing shy of immaculate, a credit to all sailors and officers who serve aboard her. We will also not forget to mention how professional and inviting the ships crew were which clearly demonstrated great pride in themselves and the navy boat they serve on.

The Armidale class is a class of fourteen patrol boats (now thirteen) built by Austal Ships at Henderson south of Perth as a successor to the Fremantle class patrol boats. The first vessel, HMAS Armidale (ACPB 83), was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in June 2005, while the last, HMAS Glenelg (ACPB 96), was welcomed to the fleet in February 2008.
Based out of Cairns and Darwin, Armidale class patrol boats are operated by the Australian Patrol Boat Group and are primarily tasked with Australia's fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law enforcement operations, and frequently work hand-in-hand with other Government agencies.

While enjoying our tour aboard HMAS Wollongong, we were informed RAN patrol boats with a marlin logo fitted to each side of the funnel represent a Cairns based vessel, while those operating out of Darwin are fitted with a buffalo logo.  
The Armidales have a standard load displacement of 300 tonnes, can reach a maximum speed of about 28 knots, and achieve an approximate range of 3,000 nm / 5,556 km at 12 knots.

Main propulsion machinery comprise of two MTU 4000 series 16V diesel engines which supply 6,225 horsepower (4,642 kW) to two propeller shafts.
Each patrol boat is armed with a single remote (bridge) operated Rafael Typhoon 25mm autocannon as main armament, supplemented by two 12.7 mm / .50 cal Browning machine guns and a variety of light arms for the protection of personnel undertaking boarding duties. A pair of 7.2-metre (24 ft) waterjet propelled rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) are carried astern behind the main superstructure.
Technology includes (but not limited to) a Bridgemaster E-surface search and navigation radar, a Rafael Toplite electro-optical detection system, a Warrlock direction finding system, and a  BAE Prism III radar warning system.
Disappointingly, HMAS Bundaberg (ACPB 91) suffered extensive fire damage while undergoing a refit in Brisbane in August 2014, and upon completion of examinations to assess whether the boat could be salvaged, a decision was made to decommission the vessel in December that year.
It is anticipated a fleet of twelve larger and more capable Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) will begin replacing the Armidale class patrol boats in the earlier 2020s. German shipbuilder Lurssen Werft will build the 1700 tonne vessels in Australia which will be capable of accommodating a helicopter.







Tuesday, April 17, 2018

RA-Aus Flying Training with Pro-Sky Maryborough - Evektor Sportstar 24-8995

Long term readers of Capricorn Plane Spotting (now Air Queensland.blogspot) may recall I completed RA-Aus Flying Training with Pro-Sky Maryborough at Gladstone Airport back in 2014 and obtained an associated Pilots Certificate with a passenger endorsement.

Tracing back to a moment in November 2013 while still completing the flying training syllabus, it was time for another lesson, and while the weather on the day was calm and almost ideal for flying, it was however very humid because of heavy rain the previous evening.

With pre-flight checks and briefs completed, we taxied in preparation to begin conducting 'circuits' but this time departing-off RWY28 and turning right instead of the usual RWY10 and turning left.

Yes, right hand circuits are permitted at Gladstone off RWY28.

Starring-down the almost two kilometer long runway, I steadily ease the power on while firmly applying right rudder to maintain the plane on the centre line, however with no shame admitting, I have been slow on the uptake making this happen and usually creep slightly towards the left-side of the runway, but with many thanks to my flying instructor, Russell does not allow me to stray too far.

Climbing-out on the 'initial' leg, I maintain a steady ascent until we pass through 500ft (flaps up and fuel pump turned-off at 300ft) and after making the necessary visual inspection for other traffic, turn right onto 'crosswind' and maintain climb until our circuit height for a medium-powered aircraft of 1000ft is achieved before easing the power back to 5000rpm and turning right onto the 'downwind' sector of the circuit.

With the aircraft configured to maintain 1000ft, time to complete downwind checks which includes ensuring fuel is selected to feed from the preferred tank, turn fuel pump back on, ensure CDI's are selected to 'both' (left & right), check gauges and circuit breakers and confirm hatches and harnesses are secure

Approaching a 45 degree angle from the threshold of RWY28, throttle back to idle, carby heat on, slightly increase the angle of attack and commence a right hand turn onto 'base' and retrim the aircraft for a steady descent (recommended to achieve 500ft AGL before turning from base onto final).

When the speed has sufficently reduced, select the required stage of flaps at the correct speed and obtain the recommended landing speed for the particular aircraft, in this case, 60 knots for an Evektor Sportstar.

Hopefully at 500ft when turning onto 'finals', cancel carby heat, ensure the aircraft has remained correctly trimmed and allow the plane to descend at a moderate yet steady pace before attempting to pull-off what will hopefully be a great landing.

Upon touch down, steady the aircraft, reconfigure the aeroplane for take-off (trim, flaps), throttle-on, firmly apply right rudder, gently ease the controls back as speed increases and around we go again.