NUSHIP Canberra people master Mass Evacuation System training

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Mascot, NSW

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Canberra (L02)

Members of Sea Training Group, Lieutenant Commander John Moores, RAN, left, and Warrant Officer Simon Allanson prepare to go down the evacuation slide at BAE system's Maritime Landing Helicopter Dock Training Centre in Sydney, NSW. (photo: ABIS Tom Gibson)
Members of Sea Training Group, Lieutenant Commander John Moores, RAN, left, and Warrant Officer Simon Allanson prepare to go down the evacuation slide at BAE system's Maritime Landing Helicopter Dock Training Centre in Sydney, NSW.

NUSHIP Canberra can carry more than 1400 personnel, but how would they all leave the ship in the case of an emergency? Ten Canberra personnel found the answer when they attended Mass Evacuation System (MES) training.

The Landing Helicopter Dock is fitted with six Mass Evacuation stations. Each station is a rapid deploying slide and life raft combination that allows personnel to get off the ship, straight into a raft without entering the water.

The training was conducted in May at the BAE Training Facility in Mascot, Sydney, by Mr Mal Chisholm.

“I am responsible for conducting all seamanship and Mass Evacuation Systems training for Landing Helicopter Dock personnel,” Mr Chisholm said.

“I was onboard Canberra during sea trials and witnessed the the system being successfully launched in one and a half minutes.

Crew of NUSHIP Canberra with the training staff (in yellow) at BAE system's Maritime Landing Helicopter Dock Training Centre, Sydney, NSW.

Crew of NUSHIP Canberra with the training staff (in yellow) at BAE system's Maritime Landing Helicopter Dock Training Centre, Sydney, NSW.

“I think the course participants had a bit of fun but also took away the important part of their roles - the biggest part of which is to ensure a safe, coordinated, and controlled departure from the ship and onto the Evacuation System.”

During the course a demonstration of the system was conducted. The operation and capability was broken down step by step for the course participants. This allowed members to practice their skills on the operation of the system.

Each Mass Evacuation station is controlled by two crew members who take charge at the top of the slide and ensure the safety of everyone proceeding into the evacuation chute. They also ensure that the equipment remains secured to the ship during the evolution.

There are two different life raft layouts within the six stations. Two stations have four interconnected life rafts and four stations have three rafts. Each life raft is able to hold 150 personnel.

These life rafts are very large and have the capability to be flipped by a wave and still serve their purpose.

Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Renee Young attended the day course and said the training was excellent.

Petty Officer Ollie Garside, goes down the evacuation slide at BAE system's Maritime Landing Helicopter Dock Training Centre in Sydney, NSW.

Petty Officer Ollie Garside goes down the evacuation slide at BAE system's Maritime Landing Helicopter Dock Training Centre in Sydney, NSW.

“There were lots of light hearted moments while still understanding the serious nature of what we were being taught,” Petty Officer Young said.

“The course has taught us about the safe operation and conduct of deploying the system.

“The most challenging part of the operation is to make sure everyone safely embarks and to manage personnel down to the life raft itself.”

Canberra is the Royal Australian Navy's first Landing Helicopter Dock.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141618.