People-focused for deployments

Published on CMDR Kelli Lunt (author)

Topic(s): HMAS Diamantina (M86), HMAS Gascoyne (M85), East Asia Deployment

Chief Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kevin Paul and Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician David Walker on the ship's satellite WiFi (known as a ‘Quality of Life’ initiative) which was installed in the lead up to their deployment on board HMAS Gascoyne. (photo: )
Chief Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kevin Paul and Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician David Walker on the ship's satellite WiFi (known as a ‘Quality of Life’ initiative) which was installed in the lead up to their deployment on board HMAS Gascoyne.

In an era when Navy is prioritising its people, the officers and sailors of HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne can attest that the tide is turning in the right direction.

A number of initiatives were implemented for their recent Maritime East Asia Deployment, in order to improve the quality of ship life.

The Huon class minehunters deployed for more than three months, travelled more than 13,000 nautical miles, and visited numerous countries including the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

Along the way, they navigated through some challenging weather conditions, and had to avoid several typhoons.

People-focused considerations that were implemented for their deployment included:

  • Satellite WiFi (known as a ‘Quality of Life’ initiative) was installed in both platforms in the lead up to the deployment, allowing personnel to maintain communication with family and friends,

  • A review of the deployment schedule and revised navigation plans had the ships return home more than a week earlier than initially scheduled, allowing more time for personnel to be alongside with family and friends; and

  • Provision of thermal clothing to combat the cold climate in northern parts of Japan.

Gascoyne’s Chief Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kevin Paul said the installation of WiFi so quickly made being away from home easier.

“Having good connectivity is not something I have ever had previously on a Minor War Vessel, let alone having WiFi,” Chief Petty Officer Paul said.

“The quality of life upgrade was a huge bonus for this deployment, enabling me to continue my university studies instead of deferring,” he said.

Diamantina’s Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain David Gray and Seaman Communication Information Systems Ash McCraig also said the WiFi was a huge bonus.

“Quality of life (WiFi) made the deployment significantly easier for my serving spouse and I, as we have a dependant with special needs who had a number of issues that we were able to be overcome due to the ease of regular communications and availability of online services,” Petty Officer Gray said.

“As it’s my first deployment, it was fantastic to have the WiFi on board, especially going on what colleagues have said about not having it on previous deployments,” Seaman McCraig said.

“The system worked really well and did improve quality of life, being able to talk to spouses and families on a daily basis,” he added.