It is with great sadness that we have to report the far-too-early death of ex-WOATV Rick Collins. His passing was very sudden and completely unexpected.

Rick was born in 1963 and raised in country SA, from the little town of Cummins on the Ayre Peninsula. He joined the Navy from School in Jan 1981 as a Navy Aviation Apprentice Air Technical Communications Sailor (ATC) and passed out of HMAS Nirimba in March 1983 having met his life partner, Robyn, the year before.

Rick was posted to 723 Sqn, originally supporting Navy Bell Kiowa 206B-1 and Bell UH-1 Iroquois Helicopters. He did well and was among the first in the intake to be promoted to Leading Seaman. He did a few short stints as Ships Flight on HMAS Tobruk before being posted to HMAS Moresby Flight for two years. Soon after returning from the Flight he was promoted to Petty Officer, again in close to minimum time.

Once attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer Rick was posted DSCM in Canberra as the ATV and Aircrew Career Manager. He spent a few cold winters riding his motorbike from Nowra to the nation’s Capital. It was here that his early skills in helping solve other sailors problems came to the fore. I am sure in the dictionary under the term “Conflict Resolution” you will find a picture of Rick Collins. On return to Albatross Rick did another posting to 723 Sqn before being posted to the Navy Contract Liaison Office at NASPO.

The NCLO Posting is where Rick’s skills as a negotiator and contract manager emerged as he performed the role of liaison between NASPO, the Squadrons and the Aircraft Support Services contractors, initially Hunter Aerospace and later BAE Systems. Anyone – Sailor, APS employee or Contractor who worked with Rick will remember his calm, fair and pragmatic approach to all issues arising.

Rick soon picked up his boards and returned to 723 Sqn for his final posting as Deputy AEO. He had in every rank from Seaman to Warrant Officer on 723 Sqn. He enjoyed his last posting a great deal, but finally paid off after 26 years in uniform. He started work as an APS 6 back at NCLO the following week – the role he had initially held as Chief Petty Officer.

Rick’s time in the in the APS saw him involved with the Aircraft Support Services Contract with BAE Systems, then the Seahawk Support Program with BAE Systems and Raytheon Australia, then most recently as Contract Manager for the USN and Lockheed Martin contact for the MH-60R Seahawk Program for Navy.

Rick was always the consummate professional when at work (mostly) but always ready for a laugh or a chat in support of one of his team or one of his contractors. He was good at his job and likely because of that he could get away with indulging his sense of fun, from time to time. He once found the stock number for an Iroquois and figured that he could improve the Squadron’s serviceability rate by ordering a new one from stores. Apparently the stores request got a little too far and the Chief in charge of Naval Stores at the time could not quite see the funny side. As Deputy AEO and Squadron Warrant Officer he could turn up to morning brief slightly out of uniform, i.e. wearing a cow suit. He was after all a big fan of Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoon. He was a mentor to many a friend to many more and had a wicked sense of humour.

He was a towering influence over all who knew him, and will be greatly missed.

The Funeral Service is to be hosted at the Fleet Air Arm Museum on Monday 6th December, commencing 1300.

After the service all are welcome to join the family at the Shoalhaven Ex Serviceman’s Club in Nowra to remember our mate.
In the mean time please join in offering our sincerest condolences to Rick’s partner Robyn, his mum Dot, sister Kathy and brother Shawn.

RIP shipmate.