Chasing waves and hunting mines

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Mitchell Hosking (author)

Topic(s): HMAS Huon (M82), Operation RENDER SAFE

Petty Officer Combat Systems Supervisor Mine Warfare Trent Cattell at sea on HMAS Huon (photo: Unknown)
Petty Officer Combat Systems Supervisor Mine Warfare Trent Cattell at sea on HMAS Huon

Having grown up surfing the northern beaches of Sydney, Trent Cattell joined the Royal Australian Navy for the lifestyle and the opportunity to serve at sea. 
 
Now a Petty Officer, he is a Combat Systems Supervisor Mine Warfare and has been in the Navy for 15 years.
 
Petty Officer Cattell is a key member of the crew of HMAS Huon, one of Navy’s six Mine Hunter Coastal ships, which is sailing to the South West Pacific for a three month deployment.
 
Huon 
has been in company with HMAS Diamantina, another mine hunter, for the last three weeks and both are deploying to support Operation RENDER SAFE 2016; the Australian Defence Force’s enduring explosive ordnance disposal support to remove explosive remnants of war from nations of the South West Pacific region.
 
“What I love most about the Navy is that it provides me with an opportunity to work in very capable and effective teams," he said. 
"My wife and kids receive excellent support and I enjoy how the job allows me to maintain a good work/life balance.
 
“Having a family can be hard to maintain but the job security of the Navy helps to ease the load."
 

The mine hunter coastal is moulded in a single monocoque skin with no ribs or framework and is made of glass-reinforced plastic.  This not only reduces the magnetic signature, important when working in minefields, but also helps prevent damage to the ship if a mine is triggered close by. 
 
To help locate the mines, the ship uses three azimuth thrusters for stationing and variable depth sonar for initial detection.  Once located, a remote controlled vehicle (Double Eagle) or Clearance Divers are used to identify and ultimately neutralise the mine. 
 
Petty Officer Cattell is Huon’s Chief Boatswain, a role that has him in charge of all upper deck seamanship and gunnery evolutions. 
 
“The most challenging part of my job is people management, trying to find the fine line between being social and friendly to then taking charge of the crew is always difficult,” he said.
 
“I am looking forward to the port visits and being able to surf some remote locations that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do as a civilian."
 
Huon 
will be conducting port visits to Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia as respite for the crew. 
 
Huon 
is expected to be back alongside Sydney in November this year. Upon arrival Petty Officer Cattell plans to spend some valuable time with his family as they go on a holiday to Bali. 
 
This leave will be short lived as the crew of Huon will be participating in Exercise OCEAN RAIDER along with other ships in the Fleet.