Canberra’s Mariner’s Skills Evaluation underway

Published on LEUT Emily Kennedy (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

HMAS Canberra's Navigator Lieutenant Commander Calvin Johnson takes a fix as the ship enters Jervis Bay. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
HMAS Canberra's Navigator Lieutenant Commander Calvin Johnson takes a fix as the ship enters Jervis Bay.

Newly commissioned Landing Helicopter Dock, HMAS Canberra, has proven she has what it takes to conduct a safe boarding operations recently, with tough couple of days of assessment from Navy's Sea Training Group.

The testing period forms part of the Mariner Skills Evaluation which checks a range of mariner competencies specific to maintaining the safety of the ship and ship’s company at sea. Canberra’s was tested on her ability to operate in a peace-time environment and overcome a range of potential emergencies.

The first two days of evaluation were conducted alongside Fleet Base East before the ship sailed for the first time as HMAS Canberra to conduct the sea phase.

The boarding operation was the second evolution to be assessed, with Canberra already having achieved the necessary standard for Diving Operations.

Able Seamen Codey Martin, Trent Buxton, Matthew Milgate and Jack Williams stow a berthing line on the drum in the Forward Mooring Station as HMAS Canberra prepares to sail from Fleet Base East, Sydney.

Able Seamen Codey Martin, Trent Buxton, Matthew Milgate and Jack Williams stow a berthing line on the drum in the Forward Mooring Station as HMAS Canberra prepares to sail from Fleet Base East, Sydney.


Sea Training Group’s Fleet Direction Officer, Lieutenant Commander Aaron Scott, said that the aim of the evaluation was to test a basic low level boarding.

“We conducted a training exercise with Canberra’s boarding party to ensure that it was safe and effective at going through their procedures for conducting low level boarding operations.

Canberra’s boarding team did really well, they were safe, effective and very enthusiastic. They performed their job to a good standard,” Lieutenant Commander Scott said.

Canberra’s First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander Michael Nipperess, said the ship had to work together to effect a successful boarding operation.

“A boarding operation not only involves the teams that go out to board the vessel, but also the boat crews who take the teams out, the operations staff who provide the information, logistics personnel that sustain the team, and the others who allocate weapons, body armour and radios for the teams to prepare,” said Lieutenant Commander Nipperess.

“It takes a range of teams from across the ship to be prepared so we can effect a professional, safe boarding operation which achieves the aims of the mission,” he said.

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Grant Lugton stands on the quarterdeck as HMAS Canberra sails from Fleet Base East, Sydney.

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Grant Lugton stands on the quarterdeck as HMAS Canberra sails from Fleet Base East, Sydney.


Able Seaman Kye Jones said he enjoyed being part of Canberra’s boarding team.

“In my role as crew security, I help keep the boarding team and the crew of the vessel being boarded safe,” said Able Seaman Jones.

“Our boarding team has trained hard in a relatively short period of time to build a strong bond and I think that is what led to a good result,” he said.

Canberra’s Boarding Officer, Lieutenant Ben Stewart, said he was very proud of the team.

“We came together, did what we trained to do, and executed it well,” he said.

Canberra sailed this month to conduct the at sea phase of Mariner Skills Evaluation prior to returning alongside Fleet Base East for a reduced activity period over Christmas.