Newcastle manoeuvres training outcome

Published on LEUT Clinton Walters (author), SBLT Gideon Watkin (author), ABEW Spencer (photographer)

Members of HMAS Newcastle on the bridge wing during Officer of the Watch manoeuvres with HMAS Rankin in the West Australian Exercise Area.  (photo: ABEW Spencer)
Members of HMAS Newcastle on the bridge wing during Officer of the Watch manoeuvres with HMAS Rankin in the West Australian Exercise Area.

While supporting HMAS Rankin’s unit readiness evaluation in the West Australian Exercise Area recently, HMAS Newcastle had the unique opportunity to consolidate anti-submarine warfare skills completed during their unit readiness workup in September. 

Officer of the Watch Sub Lieutenant Gideon Watkin said the opportunity to work with a submarine was one to be relished as it didn’t happen very often. 

“While our training is excellent, nothing can truly simulate operating with a real submarine,” Sub Lieutenant Watkin said.

When Rankin surfaced after 30 hours of evaluation on 1 October, Newcastle took the rare opportunity of observing a submarine operating on the surface at sea.

HMAS Rankin during Officer of the Watch manoeuvres in the West Australian Exercise Area.

HMAS Rankin during Officer of the Watch manoeuvres in the West Australian Exercise Area.

What the bridge team of Newcastle did not envisage was that observation would culminate in the conduct of ship-handling skills in the form of officer-of-the-watch manoeuvres to progress Newcastle bridge staff qualifications. 

Quickly accepting the invitation, Newcastle closed Rankin to 500 yards to start a set of manoeuvres. 

Many of Newcastle’s ship’s company, including Lieutenant Jeremy Baumgarten took the opportunity to observe the manoeuvres from the upper deck as Newcastle took station at various positions around Rankin.  

“Seeing the frigate manoeuvre around the submarine was incredible,” Lieutenant Baumgarten said. 

“During these manoeuvres, the reduced stability of a submarine on the surface was apparent and provided an additional challenge for the officers of the watch due to the increased difficulty in maintaining the correct station in relation to Rankin’s position.”

HMAS Rankin on the suface in the West Australian Exercise Area.

HMAS Rankin on the suface in the West Australian Exercise Area.

For those undertaking endorsement including Sub Lieutenant Watkin, who had control of the ship during the manoeuvres, this was an opportunity of a lifetime which culminated in Sub Lieutenants Watkin and Dan Lea receiving their platform endorsements later that day.