Three Royal Australian Navy aircrew from a MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopter have been safely rescued after ditching their helicopter in the Philippine Sea during a routine flight on Wednesday night.
The aircraft, from 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross, near Nowra, was operating from the Hobart Class destroyer HMAS Brisbane as part of a Regional Presence Deployment with Anzac Class frigate HMAS Warramunga, when the crew conducted an emergency landing in the water.
As a precaution the Australian Defence Force and RAN has grounded its fleet of MH-60R Seahawk Romeos, as it conducts its investigation into the cause of the incident.
HMAS Brisbane deployed sea boats and rescued the crew approximately 20 minutes later.
The crew received first aid for minor injuries upon their return to HMAS Brisbane.
The crash comes just days after the US State Department announced a $1.3 billion deal to bolster the RAN's Seahawk fleet of 24 aircraft.
It is believed the purchase is for another 12 Seahawk Romeos, which will be used to replace the ailing MRH-90 Taipan helicopters.
In June, Defence suspended flying operations of its 47 Taipan aircraft as a "safety precaution" after an issue relating to the "application of the helicopter's maintenance policy" in the aircraft's IT support system was identified.
However the ADF says government has not yet selected an aircraft for the navy's future fleet of support helicopters.
Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond, commended the crews of both ships involved for their quick response to the emergency.
"The successful rescue is credit to the devotion to duty and skill of the officers and sailors of HMAS Brisbane," RADM Hammond said.
"Their immediate actions ensured the survival of the aircrew, validating the significant training undertaken in the event an emergency of this nature occurs."
Both ships continue to search the area for any debris, which will aid in determining the cause of the incident.
"With the aircrew safe, investigating the circumstances that led to the helicopter ditching is the priority at the moment," RADM Hammond said.
"As a precaution, we have temporarily paused flying operations of the MH-60R Seahawk fleet."
Defence is reviewing the impact of the incident on Brisbane and Warramunga's current deployment.