The RAN Contingent and Armada crew on ESPS Cantabria head home after a lengthy but fulfilling deployment in support of TALISMAN SABRE 13 (TS13).
After leaving Fleet Base East in early July, Cantabria was tasked with supporting HMAS Perth in the conduct of her Unit Readiness Evaluation. In company with various HMA Ships in the EAXA Cantabria participated in Anti Air Warfare exercises and the conduct of a Dual Replenishment at Sea (liquid).
After exiting the EAXA the transit in company with Perth to the Coral Sea began. For the exercise, Cantabria was attached to blue force of which Perth would be the Commander Task Group (CTG). Stopping in the port of Gladstone and before the commencement of TS13 Cantabria provided HMAS Choules with fuel for her tasking. Cantabria was also fortunate enough to have Chief of Defence Force Gen David Hurley embark as he made his way onboard Choules. From Cantabria’s bridge wing CDF and CO Cantabria CMDR JL Nieto exchanged pleasantries as they observed the evolution of bringing Choules outboard.
With the departure from Gladstone Wharf, the scene was set and Cantabria’s crew conducted various action station exercises in preparation for entering the area of operation. Embarked RAN members participated and were even integrated into the Ships Standing Sea Fire Party after learning how to operate Armada firefighting equipment. This was only the beginning for Cantabria as she would be tasked with numerous RV points to resupply both US Navy and RAN units.
Coincidentally, during the exercise the festival of the Patron Saint of the Spanish Armada ‘Virgen del Carmen’ was celebrated. A ceremony conducted on the ship’s flight deck was attended by the RAN contingent where Armada personnel were presented with Honours and Awards. Sadly though, the celebrations were short lived as Cantabria was to learn of the disastrous train crash in Santiago de Compostela, a crash that claimed the lives of fellow countrymen. Ship’s company was appreciative of the numerous condolences received from Senior ADF personnel and impressed with the solidarity shown by HMAS Sydney who flew her flag at half mast whilst conducting a RAS.
The RAN Contingent onboard has been lucky enough to not only participate in TALISMAN SABRE but also to learn a lot from ships' company. Embarked onboard were five RAN Midshipman Engineers experiencing their first taste of sea life and learning about fuel testing, steering gear failures and ballasting, quite a lot for a trainee Midshipman to take in.
Engineer MIDN Hobbs said “I just left NEOC (New Entry Officers' Course) two months ago and didn’t expect much sea time let alone being embarked on a Spanish ship. Onboard, we have been thrown in the deep end a little with the things we have learnt, but we have been holding watches in the MCR and Armada engineers have been helping so much. I am certainly going to have some stories to tell at ADFA.”
The second rotation of Cantabria’s crew will commence in early August and they will be afforded some time to conduct training and maintenance. Cantabria can’t rest just yet as they will be participating in Exercise TRITON CENTENARY and join in the festivities of the International Fleet Review later on in the year.