Boarding teams enhance skills

This article has photo gallery Published on ABIS Bonny Gassner (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

HMAS Melbourne's S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, lands on the flight deck. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
HMAS Melbourne's S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, lands on the flight deck.

Members of HMAS Melbourne's boarding team recently conducted fast rope training in the Eastern Australian Exercise Area as part of Melbourne’s Unit Readiness work-up.

For some, the mere thought of hanging from a rope underneath a helicopter that is hovering 20 meters above a moving ship is terrifying but for the team it’s just another day at the office.

A member of HMAS Melbourne's boarding party, fast ropes out of HMAS Melbourne's S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, during a training exercise.

A member of HMAS Melbourne's boarding party, fast ropes out of HMAS Melbourne's S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, during a training exercise.

Fast-roping is a high risk evolution, where members on the ship's boarding team descend to the deck of the ship by sliding down a thick rope, using their feet for friction – like a fireman. Comprehensive training equips personnel with the necessary skills and confidence to be competent in this capability.  

Fast-roping is a fast and efficient manner to insert a boarding team onto a vessel which is some distance from the warship or when the sea state precludes inserting the team by seaboat.

Petty Officer Boatswain David Joyce said that although he carries a healthy fear of heights but still gets a real buzz every time he jumps out of the aircraft.

"It's definitely a challenging environment.  It really pushes you out of your comfort zone," he said.

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Hugh Dineen said that being able to fast rope out of an aircraft is one of the best things about being a member of Boarding Team.

"It’s not every day you get to fast rope out of a helicopter onto a ship in the middle of the ocean," he said.

HMAS Melbourne recently completed her Unit Readiness Evaluation and received standard achieved in all areas. The ship is scheduled to undertake a maintenance period before preparing for a possible operational deployment in the second half of 2015.