Navy's minehunters are designed to track sea mines and other underwater hazards but there is another man made threat that can be just as dangerous to marine life and shipping - ghost fishing nets.
Recently HMAS Huon with a team of Navy's clearance divers were tasked to locate and remove an abandoned 300kg fishing net floating off remote New Year Island located in Australia's north.
Unfortunately abandoned or ‘ghost’ nets are a common maritime hazard and pose risks to both vessel safety and marine ecosystems especially as they can remain intact for years before deteriorating.
It was a time consuming and difficult task that took the ship's company and the divers well into the night, however, removing the net was critical to ensure the continued safety of both the local reefs and the multitude of marine life which occupy them.
Able Seaman Clearance Diver Ian Bromham said he was pleased his team had been part of the operation with Huon and it showed that the Clearance Diving Branch was capable of completing any task assigned to it.
"It was a rewarding experience where we could use our combined knowledge and skills to conduct the task safely and successfully in a potentially dangerous environment," he said.
"As we were nearing completion the tide shifted which impacted our visibility as the seabed stirred up and daylight faded.
"While we didn't see any crocodiles and sharks we were always conscious that they inhabit these waters," he said.
Huon is transiting to Australian northern waters for a four month deployment for Operation RESOLUTE, the Australian Defence Force's contribution to protecting Australia's borders and offshore maritime interests.