HMAS Newcastle’s boarding party has trained with the United States Coast Guard during the ship’s first port visit while deployed in the Middle East.
Australian personnel completed a five-day course delivered by the Coast Guard at the Naval Support Activity in Bahrain which was supported by Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents.
Lieutenant Jonathan Brunsden, one of Newcastle’s Boarding Officers, said he found the training invaluable for the Operation MANITOU mission.
“Learning from NCIS and the US Coast Guard was a rewarding experience as they are world leaders in counter narcotics and boarding operations,” Lieutenant Brunsden said.
“The knowledge and practical skills gained over the past five days have given our teams increased confidence to conduct our mission successfully, professionally and safely.”
The training covered the latest in search techniques and the use of specialist search equipment, giving Newcastle’s boarding party the means to find any hidden cargo when boarding suspect vessels.
The NCIS training focused on investigation techniques and the collection of evidence. The new skills learnt will help members collect information about criminal and terrorist organisations that smuggle drugs and arms in the Middle Eastern region.
Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Lauren McAuliffe said she enjoyed the hands on aspect of the training.
“The training was extremely helpful, especially the hands on opportunities to search an actual fishing dhow and build on the skills and training prior to our deployment,” she said.
Australia is one of 31 nations contributing to the Combined Maritime Forces whose mission is to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, encourage regional cooperation, and promote a safe maritime environment.
Having arrived in the Middle East in mid-July, Newcastle is already operating in support of the mission, and now her boarding party has further high level training to put into action.