Home » Taipan chopper ‘tragedy’ averted by quick action, says army chief

Taipan chopper ‘tragedy’ averted by quick action, says army chief

Two elite defence force personnel have sustained minor injuries after an army helicopter ditched into the water during routine counterterrorism training near Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast.

All 10 personnel on board the Australian Army MRH-90 Taipan multi-role helicopter were recovered from the water on Wednesday night and assessed at the HMAS Creswell naval academy, the Department of Defence said.

The Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart said the incident had the potential to end in “tragedy”. 

“Quick responses from ADF personnel and emergency services and well-drilled teams prevented a potential tragedy,” Chief Stuart said.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation into this incident to determine the cause and ensure the platform remains safe to operate.”

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ADF personnel worked around the helicopter in the sea off Jervis Bay.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said the two injuries involved one person hitting their head and another taking on sea water.

“They’re being looked after and essentially people have been able to get out of this without any serious injury,” he said.

“That represents an incredible achievement on the part of the crew — this was a textbook response to a loss of power.”

Elite personnel involved

The Royal Military College at Duntroon had been carrying out military training around Jervis Bay for the past two weeks, and Mr Marles said that elite personnel were on board the helicopter when it crashed. The ABC understands many were wearing and carrying heavy equipment at the time of the crash.

“It’s part of routine exercises, which is done by the Tactical Assault Group East. There were both Navy clearance divers and Army Special Forces on board,” Mr Marles said.

“We should be thankful for the professionalism of the men and women of our Defence Force. In this instance, they responded to a pretty terrifying situation and in the midst of a crisis managed to act in a way which has kept everyone alive.” 

Witness accounts

Witnesses reportedly heard a “big flash, a big bang, and a bit of fire on top of the chopper” before the helicopter ditched.