First week for Weapons Electrical Engineers in Newcastle

Published on SBLT Mark Lawley (author), LCDR Ludovic Miller (photographer), LSIS Hannah Stiles (photographer)

Location(s): Twofold Bay, NSW

HMAS Newcastle loads ammunition including missiles at Eden, New South Wales, in preparation for a Combat System Alignment and Sea Qualification Trial. (photo: LSIS Hannah Stiles)
HMAS Newcastle loads ammunition including missiles at Eden, New South Wales, in preparation for a Combat System Alignment and Sea Qualification Trial.

As HMAS Newcastle prepared to sail on a busy day in June, Lieutenant Nathan Tabke and Sub-Lieutenant Mark Lawley joined the ship as new Assistant Weapons Electrical Engineer Officers (AWEEOs).
 
The AWEEOs are under training to learn the roles and responsibilities of the Electrical Engineering Department onboard a Major Fleet Unit, in this case the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) HMAS Newcastle, and to gain practical exposure to working with weapons systems.
 
They joined the ship during a busy period, sailing on the same day that they joined for a Mariner Skills Evaluation (MSE) with Sea Training Group.
 
During the first week of their first posting to sea as AWEEOs, the team hit the ground running and participated in Damage Control exercises and Electronic Casualty Control drills, in addition to completing their post-in routine and learning the layout of the ship.
 
On completion of the Mariner Skills Evaluation, Newcastle proceeded to Twofold Bay, Eden to ammunition, an important step in a ship's operating cycle.
 
Participation in the activity gave the two AWEEOs an opportunity to gain a greater appreciation of the work involved in coordinating and managing an ammunitioning evolution.

SBLT Lawley (left) and LEUT Tabke (right) preparing a Mk46 torpedo for transfer into the magazine.

SBLT Lawley (left) and LEUT Tabke (right) preparing a Mk46 torpedo for transfer into the magazine.


 
Newcastle's Head of the Weapons Electrical Engineering Department, Lieutenant Commander Luke Miller, said it also allowed the two junior officers the chance to gain first hand experience of the special requirements necessary to transfer ammunition.
 
“It’s great that the new AWEEOs were able to experience an ammunitioning this early in their posting which sets a good foundation for their training onboard,” Lieutenant Commander Miller said.
 
The most onerous aspect of the ammunitioning for the AWEEOs was helping to move the MU90 and Mk46 Torpedoes into position in the Torpedo Magazine.
 
The evolution was lengthy and took several hours to complete. It not only involved a great deal of precision but also much heavy lifting on the part of the AWEEOs to move the weapons into their stowages.
 
Lieutenant Tabke said he really enjoyed the ammunitioning evolution.
 
"It has been an interesting and rewarding experience."
 
Once all ammunition had been loaded onboard, the ship commenced preparations to sail. Due to the remote location of the Ammunitioning Wharf, members of ship’s company remained on the wharf to slip the ship. Both AWEEOs were nominated to form part of the 'slipping party' and once the ship had left the wharf, the party returned to Newcastle via a boat transfer.
 
Lieutenant Tabke and Sub-Lieutenant Lawley both agreed that the boat transfer was a great way to end what had been a very busy but enjoyable day.
 
Once Newcastle successfully passed the Mariner Skills Evaluation, the next steps were a Combat System Alignment and Sea Qualification Trial which involves testing and firing some of the ship’s weapon systems.