2005 Nias Island Sea King crash
|Date||2 April 2005|
|Aircraft type||Westland Sea King|
|Operator||Royal Australian Navy|
The 2005 Nias Island Sea King crash was the crash of a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland WS-61 Sea King helicopter (tail number N16-100, call sign "Shark 02") of 817 Squadron RAN at approximately 4 pm (local time) on 2 April 2005 with 11 personnel on board. The accident occurred while "Shark 02" was making its approach to land on a sports field located near the village of Tuindrao in the region of Amandraya on the Indonesian island of Nias. "Shark 02" had been providing humanitarian support to the people of the earthquake-devastated region.
Nine personnel died in the accident, including six members of the RAN and three members of the Royal Australian Air Force. Two personnel survived the crash: a Navy Leading Seaman and an Air Force Leading Aircraftman.
Ceremonies and National Service of Thanksgiving
The arrival of the bodies in Australia on 5 April 2005 was marked by a ceremony at Sydney Airport. Families of the deceased were joined by the Governor-General of Australia, Major General Michael Jeffery, the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, Chief of Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove and the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
Each of the deceased were honoured with Service funerals. A National Service of Thanksgiving for those killed in the crash of "Shark 02" was held on Friday, 15 April 2005 in the Great Hall of Australian Parliament House in Canberra. The service was attended by family members, friends and colleagues of all nine members killed, and by both survivors. The service was led by the Anglican Bishop to the Australian Defence Force, Tom Frame. Others who spoke at the service included: John Howard, Australian Prime Minister; Kim Beazley, Leader of the Opposition; and Imron Cotan, Indonesian Ambassador to Australia. Services were also held at the Australian Defence Force's headquarters in Canberra, and at other Service establishments across the country.
The state visit of President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, allowed him to honour the deceased by presenting and placing on the casket of each his country's highest honour, the Medal of Valour. The two survivors were awarded with the honour at a later time.
The Indonesian award highlighted a problem of awarding similar honours by the Australian Government, as the servicemen and women had been part of a humanitarian operation at the time of the incident, not a military one. This was overcome by changing the circumstances for the award of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal, so that all who served in the Indonesian humanitarian mission would be eligible, including the nine deceased and two survivors.
On 17 March 2008, the actions of one of the survivors, former Leading Seaman Warburton, were recognised with Australia's second highest bravery award, the Star of Courage. The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, said that Shane Warburton’s actions in saving a colleague while facing immense personal danger was a significant act of heroism worthy of such recognition. The Minister said his selfless act was particularly noteworthy given he himself was seriously injured in the accident.
On 26 May 2009, four Indonesian men – Benar Giawa, Adiziduhu Harefa, Motani Harefa and Seti Eli Ndruru – were awarded the Bravery Medal at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, for their role in rescuing the survivors of "Shark 02". Together, they carried the men to safety away from the crash site, made the Australians comfortable and provided first aid.
Board of Inquiry
A Board of Inquiry was appointed by the Maritime Commander Australia on 28 April 2005 to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. An initial analysis of the accident was conducted by an Aircraft Accident Investigation Team. The Board delivered its report with findings and recommendations to the appointing authority on 18 December 2006; this report was made public in June 2007.[clarification needed]
An article in The Bulletin in April, 2007 revealed allegations of substandard maintenance on Sea Kings before and after the accident.
In an interview with Ray Martin, the Maritime Commander Australia, Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, said he understood the anger of grieving families.
- RAY MARTIN: The Navy's integrity is on the line. Is your integrity on the line too?
- REAR ADMIRAL DAVYD THOMAS: Absolutely, my integrity is on the line, I know that.
- Star of Courage Mr Shane Robert WARBURTON, Theodore ACT 2905
- ABC News Indonesians honoured for chopper crash rescue
- Media Notes Governor-General of Australia
- Daley, Paul (3 April 2007). "The fatal journey of Shark 02". The Bulletin. pp. 22–29. Retrieved 2008-01-10.[dead link]
- Lucev, Athanae (6 December 2009). "Life saving boat launched". The West Australian.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2005 Nias Island WS-61 Sea King crash.|
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- Transcript from 60 Minutes story