Spending 106 days away from home, with 75 days underway and many of those underwater, is something Australian Navy submariners take in their stride, but keeping a boat at sea takes some special skills.
HMAS Waller was recently able to achieve an ambitious program without losing a single day at sea thanks largely to her high performing Marine Engineering department.
Marine Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Wesley North, said he was extremely proud of his team.
“As issues arose we were able to overcome them thanks to a combination of a solid core of training, a wealth of experience, particularly among our senior sailors, and some fairly impressive ingenuity,” he said.
Over the course of the deployment, Waller travelled more than 10,000 nautical miles, participating in a busy exercise schedule with both Australian and Allied air and naval forces. A high point in this program was Waller’s participation in Exercise TALISMAN SABRE during which she operated against a combined Australian, New Zealand and United States task group and remained mostly undetected for over three weeks while conducting several successful simulated attacks.
Able Seaman Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submarines Kelly Thomson, one of Waller’s Manoeuvring Control Console Operators, said the key to success was to combine serious work with an upbeat attitude.
“It’s been hard work but we had a lot of fun on the way around,” she said.
“One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to drive the submarine in a wide range of conditions, from six-metre seas in the Southern Ocean to mill pond calm in the Arafura Sea.”
Waller visited Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin, with the transit from Brisbane to Darwin through the Inner Great Barrier Reef largely on the surface, and Waller diverted through the Whitsunday Island group en route to conduct navigational training.
Lieutenant Kara Wansbury, Waller’s Navigation Officer, has only recently taken up the role and relished the extended opportunities.
“This is my first posting as Navigator and the experience of taking a submarine all the way around the continent has been fantastic,” she said.
“I particularly enjoyed the transit through the Great Barrier Reef, it provided some interesting navigational challenges and the scenery was spectacular.”
But the most rewarding part of the trip was undoubtedly to welcome another new submariner to the family.
Seaman Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submarines Daniel Haugh was awarded his submarine qualification, or ‘dolphins’, on the return transit to Western Australia.
“I joined Waller in Sydney to complete the sea qualification part of my submarine training,” he said.
“It’s been a great experience, and being awarded my dolphins on the transit back to Perth was one of the proudest moments of my life.”
The professionalism, enthusiasm and tenacity of the crew assisted with international anti-submarine warfare training over many months, an essential skill to ensure Australia’s national security.