Keeping the sea lanes, mine-free lanes

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author)

Location(s): Lord Howe Island, Australia

Able Seaman Joshua Hilliard and Able Seaman Peter Dixon prepare for the final 60 metre dive, against the dramatic backdrop of Balls Pyramid, adjacent to Lord Howe Island
 (photo: Unknown)
Able Seaman Joshua Hilliard and Able Seaman Peter Dixon prepare for the final 60 metre dive, against the dramatic backdrop of Balls Pyramid, adjacent to Lord Howe Island

Divers attached to Royal Australian Navy minehunter, HMAS Gascoyne, have spent a week conducting deep water diving operations training in the crystal waters off Lord Howe Island.

Three divers from the Huon class ship, augmented by two divers from sister ship, HMAS Yarra, worked up to achieving 60 metre diving capability on mixed gas breathing apparatus.

The dive work-up occurred in clear blue waters against the dramatic backdrop of Balls Pyramid, adjacent to Lord Howe Island.  It was conducted over several days, allowing the divers, time to become familiar with their equipment and underwater conditions as dive depths increased each day.
 
Able Seaman Clearance Diver Luke Dixon, who qualified as a clearance diver in September 2014, said it was a great location to conduct dive training.
 
“It was the best dive I have ever done; the visibility at 60 metres was awesome and  I could clearly see the dive boat above me,” Able Seaman Dixon said.
 
Commanding Officer Gascoyne, Lieutenant Commander Alan Parton, said that the achievement was a milestone in mine-counter-measures diving.

“The dive set a new record for Gascoyne clearance divers," he said.

"Previously the deepest series of dives at Lord Howe Island were to depths of 50 metres by recreational divers.

“This demonstrates that the Royal Australian Navy now has a proven and reliable mine-counter-measures deep diving capability."

On completion of the training, Gascoyne returned to Lord Howe Island for a short break before continuing across the Tasman.
 
“In 2014, divers from Gascoyne along with a number of other Royal Australian Navy personnel took part in the fifth Western Pacific Naval Symposium Mine Counter Measures Exercise held in New Zealand – so we’re looking forward to returning and re-establishing acquaintances,” Lieutenant Commander Parton said.
 
The Huon class play a vital role in protecting ships, harbour and infrastructure from the threat of sea mines. They have specialized high definition sonar designed to search for mines on the seabed which can be neutralized by mine disposal vehicle or clearance diver.