Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba has conducted a successful boarding exercise during Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2018, Navy’s premier fleet training activity.
Personnel boarded the training ship MV Sycamore after Toowoomba identified the vessel and its crew as 'non-compliant' while sailing in the waters off Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
Fleet Gunnery Assistant - Sea Training Group, Warrant Officer Boatswain Raymond Beasy, supervised the training which familiarised teams from Toowoomba with the boarding process.
“The outcome of this training is for the ship and boarding team to facilitate and conduct a non-compliant boarding at sea,” he said.
“After mustering the crew of the vessel being boarded, the team conducts searches and passes relevant information back to the ship.
“Each boarding party member has specific areas that they go to and specific jobs to carry out.”
An essential role in the boarding team is the Marine Technician, whose job is to inspect the vessel’s engine room for personnel, safety and serviceability.
Leading Seaman Marine Technician Greg Gonzalez performed this function during the exercise onboard MV Sycamore.
“I check the engine spaces for fire and flood, find out the method of propulsion and how the vessel is being operated,” he said.
“When I get back in Toowoomba after a boarding operation there’s an unreal feeling of satisfaction and camaraderie.
“I’m in a team of men and women who’ve have either had a rough, or very exciting day and everyone is motivated to be part of that team and doing something worthwhile.”
Boarding operations is a fundamental task for the Royal Australian Navy in both domestic and overseas operations.
Patrol boats in Australia’s northern waters regularly conduct boardings of foreign fishing vessels to check for illegal activity while frigates on operations in the Middle East region board suspect vessels to counter piracy and weapon and narcotics smuggling.