More than three decades ago the continued service of Sydney base, HMAS Waterhen was confirmed as a key component to Navy’s future requirements, and she’s certainly paid back dividends since – but what’s next?
The complex roles undertaken today by Waterhen, providing services to Navy and DMS Maritime vessels, and a new multi-role aviation training vessel, and housing a large variety of lodger units along with her own staff, is one that may not have been foreseen. But she’s not done yet.
Waterhen’s future may be a specialised base as the centre of excellence for mine warfare training said Commanding Officer, Commander Nick Watson.
“We are in talks about how best to become a ‘littoral support base’ training for the future in amphibious and mine neutralising techniques,” Commander Watson said.
“Navy is developing focused skills and resources to use agile, deployable teams and house an array of manned and unmanned technology at Waterhen to work towards that aim.”
An important part of this future is collaboration is through teamwork undertaken by units based at Waterhen.
“As Australian Mine Warfare Team 16 and the Deployable Geospatial Support Teams mature more, they can work together to fulfil the wide rapid environmental assessment concept,” Commander Watson said.
“This is going to be a game changer for Navy.”
Waterhen involvement with other establishments will also be key to future success.
Lieutenant Commander David Hellier, Executive Officer Waterhen, said collaboration was vital.
“We have close involvement with HMAS Penguin through links to the diving community as well as our support for Surface Force and Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and the Patrol Boat Force. That resource allocation should not be looked at in isolation.” Lieutenant Commander Hellier said.
“For example, Penguin has ample land and building assets, Waterhen has a highly functional wharf capacity and access to different vessels for Navy members.
“When discussions regarding site redevelopment and resource allocation occur, it’s best we do it with the pros and cons of both locations in mind.”
Along with all of this Waterhen has had a busy calendar of Navy, ministerial and foreign visits, course development and instruction, duty establishment ceremonial duties and liaison with local community elements like residents, council and NSW Police over the last six months.
Just to add a little more to the pile, Waterhen is also hosting a Defence Work Experience Placement Program in September to help as part of the goal to attract new personnel into the force.