No rest for the Demons

Published on LEUT James McPherson (author), LSIS Kieran Dempsey (photographer)

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Melbourne (F05)

Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Marine Technician Jack Everett demonstrates the equipment used in damage control to the crew members and their guests in HMAS Melbourne during a families cruise from Gladstone to Sydney. (photo: LSIS Kieran Dempsey)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Marine Technician Jack Everett demonstrates the equipment used in damage control to the crew members and their guests in HMAS Melbourne during a families cruise from Gladstone to Sydney.

It is easy to imagine after a number of months at sea a ship’s company would take their last day pretty easy. Not so for the crew of HMAS Melbourne.

The Standing Sea Fire and Emergency Party continued to put their training to the test undertaking damage control exercises and showing family members who had embarked for the final leg how they handle potentially lethal situations.

Royal Australian Navy sailor Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Mathew May, left, assists his uncle Tony to don the fire ensemble worn by sailors in HMAS Melbourne during a families cruise from Gladstone to Sydney.

Royal Australian Navy sailor Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Mathew May, left, assists his uncle Tony to don the fire ensemble worn by sailors in HMAS Melbourne during a families cruise from Gladstone to Sydney.

A simulated fire in the trash-compacting compartment presents one of the most dangerous scenarios for a ship, but Melbourne demonstrated why they deserve the Duke of Gloucester’s Cup for being the most effective and efficient fleet unit.

Tony May, who is the uncle of the ship’s buffer Chief Petty Officer Matthew May, was onboard to see the damage control exercise unfold.

“I was impressed with the systematic approach to evaluating the fire and how it would be handled,” Mr May said.

“There is an intricacy, but the systems and processes are so well drilled that the ‘fire’ was put out in minutes.”

Mr May got the chance to try on the fire-fighting equipment and got a feel for what is an almost daily training routine for a warship.

“You don’t realise until you see it just how complex fighting a fire at sea can be. It’s a testament to the people and how well they go about their jobs.”

Melbourne has returned from her final overseas deployment before decommissioning later in the year. The ship’s company will take the training they’ve received on the frigate and apply it across the fleet.