Divers present recompression capability to Fiji’s Chief of Navy

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABIS Jarrod Mulvihill (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin, Diving Teams

Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Brenton Paine, left, speaks with Fiji's Chief of Navy, Captain Humphrey Tawake about the functionality of the transportable recompression chamber at HMAS Waterhen. (photo: ABIS Jarrod Mulvihill)
Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Brenton Paine, left, speaks with Fiji's Chief of Navy, Captain Humphrey Tawake about the functionality of the transportable recompression chamber at HMAS Waterhen.

A Fijian Navy contingent led by the Chief of the Fijian Navy, Captain Humphrey Tawake, was recently given a familiarisation tour of the Royal Australian Navy’s Diver Recompression chambers.

Captain Tawake specifically requested the familiarisation visit to enhance the professional development of the Fijian Navy’s Diver branch.

This short notice visit enabled Captain Tawake and his staff to observe Australian recompression chamber procedures, with the staff at HMAS Penguin providing expert advice and answers to the many questions posed by the Fiji contingent.

The group was particularly interested in the type and size of recompression chamber that would be needed to meet the Fijian Navy’s requirements for ship and shore based portable recompression chambers.

Following the demonstration of the main recompression chamber at HMAS Penguin, the group travelled to HMAS Waterhen and braved the elements to actively participate in an operational display of the recompression chamber fitted on the Minehunter HMAS Huon.

This demonstration simulated compressing a diver at depth and then having them resurface while being monitored by an underwater medical officer and ship’s diving staff.

The recompression chamber can accommodate a diver and a medic for recompression treatments, can create an pressurised environment with a depth equivalent of 70 metres and supports personnel on oxygen, air and mixed gases.

The demonstration also allowed the Fijian medical staff accompanying Captain Tawake to gain valuable insight into Australian practices.

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Huon, Lieutenant Commander Robert Short said the visit was a great opportunity to showcase an important capability for the Royal Australian Navy.

“This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the equipment we have to support the divers on-board who provide a valuable role in mine warfare countermeasures.

“Having this equipment on board Minehunters enhances our capability to operate autonomously”.

Following the live demonstration on Huon, the Fijian contingent toured Clearance Diving Team One (CDT1) facilities at HMAS Waterhen, where a portable variant of the Recompression Chamber was displayed.

Clearance Divers explained the ‘pack-up and fly away’ procedures they employ in their world-wide activities and provided further advice and guidance on recompression chambers and their use.

Captain Tawake said he was very impressed with the thoroughness and detailed level of explanation he and his contingent received.

“I appreciate the opportunity to view all this equipment in use today,” he said.

This gratitude was further demonstrated when Captain Tawake exchanged Navy Crests with Captain Damien Scully-O’Shea, the Capability Manager of the Royal Australian Navy’s Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Group.

“Today’s engagement is an excellent example of Navy’s ongoing collaboration with our Pacific neighbours and the strong relationships we share with our regional Navies,” Captain Scully-O’Shea said.