Survival training a hit in Taree

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author)

Location(s): Taree, New South Wales

Students form Chatham High learn the proper survival at sea techniques to keep warm during a training demonstration. (photo: Unknown)
Students form Chatham High learn the proper survival at sea techniques to keep warm during a training demonstration.

The HMAS Albatross Armoury team recently visited Taree, New South Wales, where they spent three days teaching sea survival skills  to local teenagers. Over 100 students from Chatham High were put through a range of drills which also emphasised the importance of self-discipline, teamwork and leadership.

Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Daniel MacQueen, Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Chris Bobbin, Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Anita Haywood and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jody Levy were invited to Taree after Ms Debra Shaw, a teacher from Chatham visited Albatross with a group of Navy Cadets earlier in the year and seen them instructing survival at sea procedures. 

Ms Shaw was so impressed she asked if it would be possible to have the same course taught to her students in Taree. 

Students from Stratham High learn the proper techniques for survival at sea during a demonstration.

Students from Stratham High learn the proper techniques for survival at sea during a demonstration.

Chief Petty Officer MacQueen said they were pleased to have the opportunity to work with the students. 

"None of the students at Chatham High have ever experienced anything like this before," he said.

"They were a diverse group, some had speech and hearing disabilities, several had experience with juvenile detention and issues with authority. 

"One thing they had in common was that the jump into the pool also took them well outside their comfort zone.

“Some initially hesitated at the safety jump or found the inside of the life raft too confining but once they overcame their fears they loved it!

“My main priority for the program was to see the students have a good time but I also wanted them to learn valuable skills and have some exposure to Navy style training. 

"They all learnt something new and it was very gratifying to see all those smiles at the end of each activity.

Teachers later said the students could not stop talking about their experiences and some who participated on the first day came back on the last to do it all over again.

“Kids in these regional areas don’t have access to as many of the resources city kids take for granted and I would love to spend more time with them, bring 40 or so to HMAS Albatross, take them through some paces down here, they would think that all their Christmases had come at once,” Chief Petty Officer MacQueen said.