The Royal Australian Navy routinely shares and expands knowledge through a range of personnel exchanges, and for one Australian mine warfare specialist the opportunity to work with the Royal Navy has been without comparison.
Lieutenant Commander Marc Rennie joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2001, is a Mine Clearance Diving Officer and was selected for a role in the United Kingdom in the Royal Navy’s Hunt class mine countermeasures vessel, HMS Chiddingfold. Since January he has been deployed as the Executive Officer of Crew One of the ship.
"The exposure working with the Royal Navy in support of mine warfare and clearance diving operations is invaluable and provides a specialised opportunity to engage and broaden my experience and knowledge," Lieutenant Commander Rennie said.
Since 2014 Chiddingfold has been based out of Bahrain, undertaking Operation KIPION in the Middle East. The Royal Navy routinely deploys ships for extended periods and rotates crews through the ship's remote homeport. KIPION provides an operational framework for the Royal Navy, with the maritime presence a demonstration of their continued commitment to ensuring peace and stability throughout the region.
Lieutenant Commander Rennie said that the deployment provided opportunities to directly apply his skills an operational theatre.
"This deployment provides an opportunity to learn and develop high-end mine warfare skills in a demanding and complex environment with the Royal Navy and other Allies," he said.
“The exposure and continued engagement within the Royal Navy have provided lessons that will be used in my future roles in the Royal Australian Navy.”
One aspect of this deployment was a rare opportunity for the crew to sail the ship through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea to safely return home to Portsmouth, United Kingdom in early September.
As the Royal Navy mine hunting ships only return to the United Kingdom every three years, it was a special occasion. Meeting the ship on their return to the United Kingdom was the Australian Head of Defence Staff – London, Air Commodore Brian Edwards and Australian Naval Adviser – London, Captain Shane Craig.
“This is a unique opportunity to thank both the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy crew members for their service and contribution to the United Kingdom's mission and to share in the experience of their welcome home with family and friends," Captain Craig said.
As a special ending to this deployment, Lieutenant Commander Rennie returned to the United Kingdom to greet his wife and new daughter who was born in late August. Later this year he and his family will come back to Australia before he assumes command of an Australian mine hunter.