Stokers fix mission critical equipment in the MEAO

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author), POIS Ollie Garside (photographer)

Location(s): Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO)

HMAS Newcastle sailors Able Seaman Phil Mercieca and Able Seaman Blake Wade hard at work on the ship's degaussing system. (photo: POIS Ollie Garside)
HMAS Newcastle sailors Able Seaman Phil Mercieca and Able Seaman Blake Wade hard at work on the ship's degaussing system.

Two Marine Technicians (MT) onboard HMAS Newcastle have repaired a mission-critical piece of equipment to allow the Australian warship to continue her operational tasking in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).
 
Newcastle was conducting counter piracy, counter narcotics and counter terrorism duties in the MEAO as part of Operation SLIPPER, when the system to reduce the magnetic field of the ship suffered a rare defect.
 
Despite having never worked on the system before, Able Seaman Phil Mercierca and Able Seaman Blake Wade were able to identify the components that had failed and rectify the problem.
 
“It was a difficult job, because the system is pretty complex and we don’t get to work on it every day,” AB Mercierca said.
 
“It was a fulfilling thing to be able to do it at sea, to fix a piece of equipment which is needed by the ship to carry on its mission. It felt like we contributed to the big picture, the mission we are out here to achieve.”
 
 Marine Engineering Electrical Supervisor, Petty Officer Brett Ross praised the two MTs for the work they did to repair the system.
 
“It was great, considering the system very, very rarely suffers a defect,” PO Ross said.
 
“The chance to get hands on with the system offered these young engineers some rare exposure to an important piece of equipment which they may not work on again for a long time,” he said.
 
The system controls the ship’s magnetic signature to protect it from explosive ordinance such as sea mines. The equipment is particularly important to a warship conducting operations.
 
Operation SLIPPER is the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.
 
Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130677.