Final Damage Control Exercise for Sea Trainer

Published on LEUT Kelli Lunt (author), LSIS James Whittle (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Toowoomba (F156), Damage Control Exercise, Sea Training Group

Fleet Damage Control Officer Lieutenant Commander Col Painter, of Sea Training Group, ensures personnel adopt the correct brace position during a damage control exercise onboard HMAS Toowoomba. (photo: LSIS James Whittle)
Fleet Damage Control Officer Lieutenant Commander Col Painter, of Sea Training Group, ensures personnel adopt the correct brace position during a damage control exercise onboard HMAS Toowoomba.

Final sea time was on the cards for the Fleet Damage Control Officer as he completed HMAS Toowoomba’s mission readiness evaluation.

Lieutenant Commander Col Painter, a return member of Sea Training Group (STG), is hanging up his radio and timer when he posts from the billet in July.

One of the few marine technician officers in the Fleet, Lieutenant Commander Painter said damage control was an important aspect of unit and mission readiness workups and challenged the ships’ companies’ communication, team work and overall fatigue levels.

Lieutenant Commander Adrian Silverthorn, of Sea Training Group, monitors members of HMAS Toowoomba's Marine Engineering Department while at 'action stations' during a Damage Control exercise in the lead up to their Mission Readiness Evaluation.

Lieutenant Commander Adrian Silverthorn, of Sea Training Group, monitors members of HMAS Toowoomba's Marine Engineering Department while at 'action stations' during a Damage Control exercise in the lead up to their Mission Readiness Evaluation.

“I find the vast majority of the ship approaches it in a positive manner. They like the challenges of complex damage control exercises,” Lieutenant Commander Painter said.

“Some of the stumbling blocks I see are key personnel not readily understanding their roles and responsibilities.

“The Damage Control communications always starts as fragile - it can be one of the hardest aspects to resolve within the organisation.

“The Damage Control  skill set is highly degradable. In the case of Toowoomba, it was most unusual to have such a large block of time between their unit and mission readiness. However, parts of their organisation demonstrated a robust Command and Control aspect during the conduct of Damage Control exercises.

“There are many parts to Damage Control. There is a lot of physical and mental challenges and it takes time to form teamwork in the organisation. But consistency is what you need to see across the fleet,” he said.  

Fleet Damage Control Officer Lieutenant Commander Col Painter, of Sea Training Group, briefs Commodore Training, Commodore Michael Rothwell during a Damage Control exercise in HMAS Toowoomba.

Fleet Damage Control Officer Lieutenant Commander Col Painter, of Sea Training Group, briefs Commodore Training, Commodore Michael Rothwell during a Damage Control exercise in HMAS Toowoomba.

Lieutenant Commander Painter first joined STG in 2009 as the Fleet Damage Control Assistant and returned again as the Fleet Damage Control in 2013.

Lieutenant Commander Painter said although he enjoyed the STG role, he is looking forward to the new challenges as the Officer in Charge at the Royal Australian Navy’s School of Survivability and Ship Safety (RANSSSS).

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sea Training Group. It’s great working with ships to see them grow and develop their capability across a whole range of skills,” Lieutenant Commander Painter said.

“The most rewarding aspect is to have worked with like minded professionals within the group who are very focussed in equipping the ships with the mariner skills they need to fight and win at sea.”

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142057.