Manoeuvres drive interoperability in KAKADU

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS Justin Brown (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, Northern Territory

Topic(s): HMAS Newcastle (F06), Exercise KAKADU

HMAS Newcastle Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Sirois, RAN (left) and Sub-Lieutenant Daniel King, RAN during Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres aboard HMAS Newcastle at Exercise Kakadu 2016. (photo: LSIS Justin Brown)
HMAS Newcastle Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Sirois, RAN (left) and Sub-Lieutenant Daniel King, RAN during Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres aboard HMAS Newcastle at Exercise Kakadu 2016.

Conducting officer-of-the-watch-manoeuvres with warships from four other nations is a daunting prospect even for the most experienced ship handler. The exercise requires an officer to drive a ship at high speeds and at close quarters around other vessels. 

For a junior officer under training, conducting the manoeuvres for the first time, outside a simulator, is an unforgettable experience – a position that Sub Lieutenant Daniel King found himself in recently during Exercise KAKADU.

“Conducting manoeuvres with Japanese and American destroyers, an Indonesian corvette and a Malaysian frigate was a steep, but enjoyable learning experience,” he said. 

“Language barriers and different procedures meant that it was challenging, but I felt comfortable, especially with the professionalism shown by all involved."

HMAS Newcastle is the commander of Red Force - a task group of six warships participating in Exercise KAKADU.

Newcastle’s 
Navigation Officer, Lieutenant Thomas Ford, planned and coordinated the manoeuvres between the ships. 

“Officer-of-the-watch-manoeuvres teach fine ship handling skills, which are essential for peacetime and warfare operations,” Lieutenant Ford said.

“Whether it is during a replenishment at sea, when ships are operating close to each other, or conducting manoeuvres in a warfare environment, which requires high speed handling and precise navigation, these are essential skills for an aspiring Maritime Warfare Officer.

“The purpose of the manoeuvres was also to improve interoperability between members of task group.”

Sub Lieutenant King is in Phase Three of his Junior Warfare Application Course, which teaches Maritime Warfare Officers in the Royal Australian Navy how to drive and fight warships.

There are four phases of training before officers are eligible for endorsement to drive an Australian warship without supervision from a more qualified officer.