Canberra's Damage Control instructors under the spotlight

Published on LEUT Emily Kennedy (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Warrant Officer Maritime Logistics - Personnel Wesley Intihar from Sea Training Group observes members of NUSHIP Canberra's duty watch during a damage control exercise. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Warrant Officer Maritime Logistics - Personnel Wesley Intihar from Sea Training Group observes members of NUSHIP Canberra's duty watch during a damage control exercise.

NUSHIP Canberra's team of Damage Control Instructors have been under the spotlight during the first Landing Helicopter Dock's (LHD) duty watch certification recently.

Sea Training Group is Navy's team who assess or endorse ships to ensure they are competent across a range of departments including the ship being able to manage any emergency onboard such as a fire, flood or toxic hazard, and certifies the ship's duty watch teams as to their readiness to look after the ship.

In the past, assessments have included the capability of a ship's Combat Survivability organisation and the individual knowledge of personnel, but the focus has changed.

Warrant Officer Marine Technician Anthony Booby from Sea Training Group said the key difference in this new program is that the ship's damage control instructors (DCIs) become the focus of the assessment. By having the DCIs as a focus, it ensures the ship is able to self-sustain its Combat Survivability capability without the formal assistance of assessors.

"In line with the new approach, greater responsibility was placed on the Canberra's DCIs to run the exercises and to their credit, they did very well," Warrant Officer Booby said.

"One of the biggest challenges was understanding the physical size and layout of the ship and the differences that presented in regards to damage control," he said.

Each duty watch was required to prove they were capable of starting, operating and shutting down ship's machinery and responding to fire alarms and other emergencies while alongside in harbour.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Brodie Sharp was a member of one of the first duty watches to be endorsed by Sea Training Group and said she felt a sense of accomplishment.

"After living and breathing damage control for the previous eight weeks I felt relieved that we had been endorsed." Able Seaman Sharp said.

"I can honestly say that I'm confident in looking after the ship now," she said.

Canberra's Combat Survivability Training Officer, Lieutenant Gemma Casserly, said everyone was excited to achieve Duty Watch certification.

"The DCIs onboard had a steep learning curve and had to prepare each exercise thoroughly to ensure the learning outcomes for each duty watch team were achieved," said LEUT Casserly

"It is very satisfying to see how far both the DCIs and the duty watch team members have come, I think everyone feels extremely proud," she said.

Canberra is now certified and ready to stand up their formal duty watches in harbour next month.

The ship will arrive in her home port at Fleet Base East Sydney prior to formal commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy on 28 November.

The LHD will be able to undertake a range of tasks including complex amphibious operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

Additional imagery is available at: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143097.

For more information on the LHD visit http://www.navy.gov.au/fleet/ships-boats-craft/lhd.