Surface combatant navigators graduate post Kiwi hospitality

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Michael Rhys-Jones (author), LEUT Richard Norman (author), LEUT Matthew Durrington (author), PO Sean Armstrong (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, New South Wales

Classmates of the Surface Combatant Navigation Course 06 stand on the foc’sle of  HMAS Warramunga. L-R Lieutenant Jessica O’Brien, Lieutenant Seager Clarkson, RNZN,  Lieutenant Michael Rhys-Jones (Course Instructor) Lieutenant Ben Bird (Instructor), Lieutenant Matthew Wilson, RNZN, Lieutenant Simon Murray. (photo: Unknown)
Classmates of the Surface Combatant Navigation Course 06 stand on the foc’sle of HMAS Warramunga. L-R Lieutenant Jessica O’Brien, Lieutenant Seager Clarkson, RNZN, Lieutenant Michael Rhys-Jones (Course Instructor) Lieutenant Ben Bird (Instructor), Lieutenant Matthew Wilson, RNZN, Lieutenant Simon Murray.

HMAS Warramunga has completed a two week deployment to New Zealand in support of the Surface Combatant Navigation Course. Navigators from the Royal Australian and Royal New Zealand Navies conducted precision pilotages around the coast of New Zealand during which the ship also conducted port visits to Auckland and Wellington. 
 
The sea sssessment period for the Navigators involved almost 80 pilotage runs within the Hauraki Gulf, Pelorus and Queen Charlotte Sounds, as well as pilotage and tug handling exercises conducting in Auckland and Wellington. After two weeks of intensive navigation training the port visit to Wellington marked the end of the rigorous testing regime, resulting in four Navigators graduating from course.
 
Wellington certainly lived up to its name as the 'Windy City', with 30 knot winds as Warramunga berthed at Queens Wharf - putting newly learnt skills to the test. Whilst alongside. Warramunga hosted an official function which included guest from the New Zealand Defence Force and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, concluding with a Ceremonial Sunset.
 
Whilst in Wellington, several members of the crew utilised the opportunity to explore First World War exhibits which focused on New Zealand’s involvement in the war. Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Troy Eastwell found the realism to be particularly moving.

"I enjoyed the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition at Te Papa museum the most, because it focussed on the New Zealand side of World War One, which we in Australia don't really hear about as much," he said.


Whilst in Auckland, ship’s company were kept busy with a range of different sporting activities, with soccer and touch football against the Royal New Zealand Navy. Warramunga was fortunate enough to experience the Maori traditional welcoming ceremony, called a Powhiri, greeted by HMNZS Philomel and HMNZS Te Mana in the Te Taua Moana Marae. 
 
For the Navigators though, the New Zealand component was the culmination of 13 weeks of theory and practical activities covering advanced navigation techniques, warfare and ship handling theory.
 
Each phase aims to teach students the appropriate skills to support a Major Fleet Unit's warfare fighting capability, and to safely handle the ship in a range of operational and environmental challenges.
 
The five week practical component includes one week at the Port Ash ship handling facility, in New South Wales, where students practice ship handling and tug work in a range of environmental challenges.
 
The pilotage phase consists of one week in the Bridge Simulator at HMASWatson, a week in the Navigation Training Vessel Mercator in Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay, before the most challenging phase at sea, this time conducted in New Zealand in Warramunga.
 
Royal New Zealand Navy officer, Lieutenant Seager Clarkson said the course was both challenging and rewarding.
 
“I found the ship handling practice at Port Ash the highlight of the course," Lieutenant Clarkson said.
 
“We do not have facilities like that in New Zealand so it was beneficial to practice berthing and tug work in difficult situations whilst getting advice from experienced pilots."
 
A graduation ceremony was held for the students of the demanding and intensive course at HMAS Watson on 2 March in the presence of guest of honour Commodore Training, Commodore Mick Rothwell. Also in attendance was Secretary of the Australian Institute of Navigation Air Vice Marshall Kym Osley (Rtd), along with many members of the navigation community, including Advanced Navigators from Principal Warfare Officers' Course 52, who made a special effort to welcome the students.
 
Lieutenant Matthew Wilson, from the Royal New Zealand Navy was awarded dux of the course and was also presented a certificate and gift on behalf of the Australian Institute of Navigation.
 
"I am very proud of my achievement on what is considered a very challenging course and in the end the hard work was worth it,” Lieutenant Wilson said.
 
The Warfare Community Medallion was awarded to Australian Lieutenant Jessica O’Brien for her outstanding teamwork, values and leadership.
 
The students will soon join their respective fleets as the next generation of Surface Combatant Navigators.