Mine Warfare skills put to the test

Published on LEUT Jessica O'Brien (author), LEUT Jessica O'Brien (photographer)

Lieutenant Matthew Walker in HMAS Huon's operations room during a mine warfare serial for his final assessment of his Mine Warfare Officer Course. (photo: Leut Jessica O'Brien)
Lieutenant Matthew Walker in HMAS Huon's operations room during a mine warfare serial for his final assessment of his Mine Warfare Officer Course.
Mine Hunter Coastal, HMAS Huon, has recently put four mine warfare students through their paces in a series of challenging scenarios played out in Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
 
In the final sea assessment phase of the Mine Warfare Officers' Course, the trainees undertook navigation leadthroughs, mine disposal vehicle operations and serials utilising Huon's clearance divers. 
 
Course instructor, Lieutenant Daniel Lister, said the training provides both theory and practical elements, to not only the students but for the entire ship's company, from the Commanding Officer through to junior combat system operators and engineers. 

"Conducting mine hunting at sea has given the students exposure to real scenarios one could face," he said.
 
"From deconflicting movements to the occasional defect.  
 
"When the students are performing their core role unexpected difficulties can really test their ability to multi task and prioritise," he said. "The students have performed extremely well with excellent support from the team on Huon." 

For three of the students this will be the final hurdle before they commence the very demanding Clearance Diving Officers' Course later this year. However, for Lieutenant Matthew Walker, this will mark the final milestone of nearly 15 months of Mine Clearance Diver Officer training. 

"Completing the sea phase has been both challenging and rewarding," he said.
 
"It was great putting all the theory into practice and performing this role at sea.
 
"I am excited that I have completed my specialist training and I am looking forward to challenging roles in the branch."
 
Navy's 12 week Mine Warfare Officers' Course is an intensive program giving officers the skills required to search, identify and dispose of sea mines in both simulated and sea based training.The course consists of a theory phase at HMAS Waterhen followed by a simulation phase conducted in Waterhen's Combat System Operator Training for six weeks. The final assessment phase is conducted on a Mine Hunter Coastal at sea. 

The students will return the Waterhen for the final theory phase of the course designed to prepare them for the role of Operations Officer.