A sea check for Sydney

Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS Paul McCallum (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin

Topic(s): Exercises

HMAS Sydney Standing Sea Fire and Emergency Party check the air gauge on their breathing apparatus as they fight a simulated fire in the engineers workshop during a Sea Training Group Sea Check, while on Exercise KAKADU 2014.  (photo: LSIS Paul McCallum)
HMAS Sydney Standing Sea Fire and Emergency Party check the air gauge on their breathing apparatus as they fight a simulated fire in the engineers workshop during a Sea Training Group Sea Check, while on Exercise KAKADU 2014.

In the midst of Australia’s largest naval warfare exercise for the year, Exercise KAKADU 2014, the guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney welcomed 25 members of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) Sea Training Group aboard for the newly re-instituted ‘Sea Check’ program.

Embarked in Sydney for Sea Check was Commodore Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy, RAN, who described Sea Check as providing spot checks for major surface ships between their work-ups, to ensure that standards are maintained in all core competencies.

“The focus of Sea Check is on core mariner skills and warfare capabilities, so our intent is to conduct Sea Check during major exercises like Exercise KAKADU so that we can assess warfare skills and seamanship side-by-side.

“During KAKADU we have conducted the first two Sea Check programs, with the first in HMAS Stuart yesterday, and this program in Sydney today.

“Exercise KAKADU is the first major at sea, collective training activity in over 18 months, so with a wide range of surface and air assets at hand it is a great opportunity to put the ships through their paces.

“While we are refining the Sea Check program, those conducted so far have proven useful, and I expect Sea Check will be a major feature of our schedule into the future,” Commodore Leavy said.

Sydney’s ship’s company was tested throughout the program with a range of simulated emergency scenarios, including toxic hazards, fires, engineering failures, medical emergencies, man overboard emergencies and fuel spills, many of them occurring while the ship was under simulated attack from other ships and the air.

Observing the scenarios was Commander Shaiful Bari, Executive Officer of the Bangladesh Navy frigate BNS Bijoy, onboard Sydney for Exercise KAKADU 2014.

“I have been impressed with all the exercises conducted by the Australian Navy that I have observed.

“Everything is conducted in a very professional and serious manner, with very effective procedures for controlling any damage to a ship.

“There are many things to learn from the exercises conducted by the Australian Navy, for example the emphasis on safety during all drills, such as we observed in the gun firing and man overboard drills.

“My overall impression of the Australian Navy is that it is proficient, professional and very active,” Commander Bari said.

Sydney’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander David Murphy, related the importance of constant fine-tuning of emergency skills.

“It is good to have the Sea Trainers here to re-baseline in areas where our local training practices may have room for improvement.

Sydney has been working alone in recent months, so the opportunity to work at a high tempo in company with coalition ships is a welcome challenge, especially with the added focus of the presence of the Sea Training Group members.

“A well prepared team with good morale should be ready for anything, at any time, including audit by anyone,” Lieutenant Commander Murphy said.

During Exercise KAKADU, Sydney is leading Task Group 628.1  'Blue Force’, which also consists of the Japanese destroyer JS Hatakaze and the Philippine frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz.