Following several weeks of intense training, in trying environmental conditions, HMAS Melbourne fought valiantly for Mission Readiness as she prepared her forthcoming deployment.
Inclement weather, a condensed time frame for the training program and adjacent Fleet activities created some unique challenges as the ship’s company proved their ability to achieve the required competencies. The sea phase of Melbourne’s Mission Readiness work-up took place over a two-week period. More than 40 embarked personnel from Sea Training Group (STG) added to the ship’s complement of 230.
Mission Readiness work-ups are specifically designed to train personnel using scenarios that incorporate expected challenges and potential exigencies for each operational deployment. Melbourne’s work-up culminated in a three-day evaluation period – where the ship was assessed in its ability to execute mission-related tasks as part of a coalition task force whilst dealing with associated contingencies.
Outgoing Commander Sea Training - Major Fleet Units, Captain Mick Harris said ships that undergo a Mission Readiness Evaluation (MRE) can expect the program to be challenging, tiring and unpredictable, similar to those experienced in real operational conditions.
“The Ship has no idea what to expect, or the order in which they will receive the tasking. Sea Training Group controls the Ship for that period, and an MRE is the closest emulation of operational tasking Navy imposes within a training environment,” Captain Harris said.
“For a ship to be deemed mission ready, the assessed ship will be put through its paces. This ranges from specific war-fighting scenarios to international engagement activities. Each challenge and scenario pushes a ship to develop contingencies, which meet the competencies required of them by Fleet Commander for their deployment.”
Air operations were one of the elements assessed in Melbourne’s MRE. Melbourne’s embarked helicopter Dominator was exposed to a range of maritime interception operations in the training scenarios during work-ups in the great East Australian Exercise Area and confines of Jervis Bay. The integration of air support is frequently used during boarding operations by Major Fleet Unit’s and it is critical that personnel are well trained.
Dominator proved to be a very reliable force multiplier for Melbourne and conducted two Surface Search sorties a day and provided close protection during boarding scenarios.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130656.