Mine clearance specialists tested

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Broken Bay, New South Wales, Cockburn Sound, Western Australia

Topic(s): Exercise OCEAN RAIDER

Crew members of HMAS Gascoyne launch a Double Eagle Mine Disposal Vehicle during Exercise OCEAN RAIDER. (photo: Unknown)
Crew members of HMAS Gascoyne launch a Double Eagle Mine Disposal Vehicle during Exercise OCEAN RAIDER.

The headquarters of the Royal Australian Navy’s mine warfare capability proved it could lead a push from the sea into a conflict area and secure the waters for follow-on forces recently. 
 
During a two-week test, the Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Group coordinated the location and disposal of simulated sea mines from Broken Bay, New South Wales, and in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia.
 
The headquarters team used minehunters, HMA Ships Gascoyne and Huon, and specialised diving unit Clearance Diving Team Four to achieve the mission.
 
Their ability to clear and secure access points allowed notional waiting forces to enter by sea and evacuate citizens affected by the conflict. 
 
Director of the Maritime Evaluation Team, Commander Max Muller, said the test demonstrated the headquarters and its forces could carry out complex maritime advance force operations in a real time environment.
 
“Live exercise training allows the Navy to test combat effectiveness in a warfighting environment,” Commander Muller said.
 
“This certification confirms Navy’s capability to shape the area of operations and enable successful amphibious operations.”
 
Commander Muller said in assessing the task group, his team looked for it to pass on “accurate, succinct, understandable and achievable orders to the subordinate units”. 
 
He said headquarters also had “to interpret the information passed back to them from the units and develop appropriate courses of action”. 
 
“The Australian mine counter measures team is at the pointy end of operations so it must be at the top of its game,” Commander Muller said.
 
“Although relatively small, they are one of the most capable in the world. We saw that recently on Operation RENDER SAFE when HMA Ships Huon and Diamantina cleared more than 13 tonnes of unexploded ordnance left on the Solomon Islands after the Second World War.”
 
The maritime advance force operations battle worthiness assessment was part of Exercise OCEAN RAIDER, one of the Navy’s largest warfare exercises.
 
OCEAN RAIDER, held from 14 November to 4 December, involved warships, submarines, aircraft and more than 1,500 Defence personnel, is designed to develop and certify fleets units in task-group-level joint sea combat and is held in locations around Australia.