HMAS Darwin receives 2014 Navy Safety Award for safe narcotics disposal system

Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), LCDR Chris Davidson (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Location(s): Garden Island, Sydney

Topic(s): Navy Safety Awards

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO, CSC, RAN (centre), presents a Navy Safety Award to HMAS Darwin, received by Executive Officer HMAS Darwin Lieutenant Commander James Lawless (left) and Chief Petty Officer Anthony Walsh at the Navy Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney.  (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO, CSC, RAN (centre), presents a Navy Safety Award to HMAS Darwin, received by Executive Officer HMAS Darwin Lieutenant Commander James Lawless (left) and Chief Petty Officer Anthony Walsh at the Navy Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney.

One of Vice Admiral Tim Barrett’s first tasks as incoming Chief of Navy was to sign off on Navy's Safety Policy statement. It  represented his own commitment to placing workplace health and safety as a top priority in promoting the wellbeing and development of all Navy people.

He reinforced this message when he presented the 2014 Navy Safety Awards to 11 individuals and ships at the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre in Sydney recently.

Vice Admiral Barrett said that safety and risk management were linked to almost every daily activity undertaken by Navy personnel and the awards were an opportunity to showcase the exemplary commitment and efforts across Navy to eliminate and manage work place hazards and risks.

“Poor management of these issues can directly impact capability and war fighting capacity. It is a collective responsibility which is important to everybody as individuals, families and the organisation as a whole,” he said.

One of the top awards went to HMAS Darwin which found a way to safely dispose the large quantities of illegal narcotics seized while the guided missile frigate was deployed on Operation SLIPPER in the Persian Gulf earlier this year.

Chief Petty Officer Anthony Walsh developed the idea along with several members of Darwin’s Marine Technician department.

They had identified that harmful airborne particles coming from the narcotics while they were being disposed may represent a risk to ship’s staff and countered that with innovation.

“The system primarily uses an old wheelie bin, through which substances can be funnelled,” Chief Petty Officer Walsh said.
 
“The technique minimises airborne particles by using spray from the ship’s fire main to wet the particles, before funnelling them through the chute.”
 
“We also developed standard operating procedures on the use of the narcotic disposal unit, which have been passed onto other Royal Australian Navy ships deploying to operations that involve the interdiction and disposal of narcotics,” he said.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin Commander Terry Morrison said the narcotics disposal unit was put to good use during the deployment.

“We seized over twelve tonnes (more than AU$2.1 billion) of narcotics during our rotation. This included over one-point-six tonnes of heroin and almost eleven tonnes of hashish, which were destined to fund terrorist organisations.

“Chief Walsh and his team came up with an ingenious solution to a hazard in the workplace, and I’m pleased their work has been recognised with this award.”

Vice Admiral Tim Barrett commended a number of other ships and individuals for their contributions to safety.
 
HMAS Perth was commended for its health lifestyle initiative, HMAS Sydney was recognised for their store ship warm up solution to an identified workplace health and safety hazard and the Maritime Safety Bureau and Training Technology Support Unit was recognised for their electrical safety presentation package. Commander David Allen, Leading Seaman Adam Cross, Able Seaman Wade Hardie and Mr Brian Dunn were among the individuals recognised.