On Sunday last week two of Navy's Mine Hunter - Coastal Ships, HMA Ships Gascoyne and Huon, set off to transit across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand to participate in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) Mine Counter Measures and Diving Exercise (MCMEX) 2014.
The five day transit provided a prime opportunity for the crews to practice a number of evolutions including tows, line transfers, boarding party exercises, flag drills, damage control exercises, weapon serials and ‘Officer Of the Watch’ manoeuvres.
For Seaman Communication Information Systems (SMNCIS) Amy Howarth, this was her first deployment.
“Joining HMAS Gascoyne, particularly at this busy time has been a great opportunity. Participating in many of the evolutions has allowed me to consolidate my training, whilst also learning new skill sets,” said SMNCIS Howarth.
Prior to arrival in Auckland, Gascoyne and Huon were joined by HMNZS Hawea for night manoeuvres, before a formation entry into Auckland. After berthing at Devonport Naval Base they were welcomed by the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Philomel.
The Commanding Officer of Gascoyne, LCDR Aaron Cox, RAN spoke of the vital opportunity exercises such as MCMEX provide.
“The opportunity to practice our professional skills during the course of the MCMEX is key to crew development and ensures we maintain a high level of interoperability with our neighbouring nations.”
The exercise kicked off with an official Maori welcoming ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Navy Marae and was followed by some friendly sporting events and an all-nations barbeque. The upcoming weeks are expected to be busy and will test the capabilities of the participating nations in responding to a humanitarian emergency.