While sailing under the Australian White Ensign for the first time, HMAS Brisbane became the first ship to trial an enhanced Mariner Skills Evaluation (MSE) in Sydney and off the coast of Jervis Bay.
The new and challenging training program was designed and led by Sea Training Group to ensure Brisbane and her crew are capable and safe to handle some of the worst case scenarios when sailing in a peacetime environment.
Brisbane began her work-up period by commencing the standard phase of MSE. The assessment involved basic yet crucial evolutions at sea, such as seamanship, pilotage, boat drills, repairing engineering defects, fire fighting and toxic hazard exercises.
Brisbane achieved all key competencies and was affirmed by Sea Training Group as safe to proceed to sea.
For Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Matthew Joseph, it was the first time he’d participated in an MSE since joining the Navy.
“I learnt a lot about seamanship and damage control in Brisbane, especially when it came to understanding different techniques for flood exercises,” Able Seaman Joseph said.
“But, our first replenishment at sea with HMAS Newcastle was my favourite part because it was a big milestone for me.”
Sea Training Group accelerated the tempo with the commencement of a second week trial phase of MSE.
The training focus for this new phase shifted towards more advanced peacetime damage control training and added competencies in complex scenarios of multiple damage control incidents.
The exercises also involved operating with degraded communication and dealing with large numbers of casualties.
These type of exercises were conducted to assess Brisbane’s ability to safely operate the equipment onboard and the crew’s response in emergency situations.
HMAS Brisbane Commanding Officer, Commander Josh Wilson said it was an important first step in the introduction of HMAS Brisbane to the fleet.
“I am really pleased by how the crew learnt from each exercise and how well we worked with Sea Training Group to build our knowledge of the ship and her procedures,” Commander Wilson said.
While dealing with damage control throughout the ship, the added complexity of managing and sustaining engineering equipment was a challenging overlay.
Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Colin Frampton noted that this MSE had its challenges, even for someone experienced at conducting MSE as both a member of the ship’s company and a previous member of Sea Training Group.
“It gave us coverage of what Sea Training Group are seeking to achieve when training a ship,” Chief Petty Officer Frampton said.
“The Marine Engineering Department are a fairly junior team, but we have a wide variety of experience from previous ships in the Fleet.
“Having exercises with engineering and damage control difficulties demonstrated to the more junior members what is required to support command aims and priorities; and how the engineering team is driven to achieve this,” he said.
Deputy Marine Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Justin Pogson said the learning benefits of the MSE to a crew working up a brand new ship were significant.
“We are continually learning the plant, its nuances, and the levels of redundancy within the equipment,” Lieutenant Pogson said.
“It’s great to have new capabilities such as the Integrated Platform Management System and increased remote monitoring of machinery spaces, which assists our ability to operate and maintain machinery systems.
“It’s exciting to be on a brand new platform, even with the associated challenges of bringing a new capability into service and helping to establish the Destroyer capability for years to come,” Lieutenant Pogson said.
The scenario for the phase two MSE was based on realistic situations previously experienced by other navies, making it particularly realistic.
Fleet Damage Control Officer, Lieutenant Commander Anthony McLeod said it was invaluable for ships to reflect on, and gain an appreciation of, the types of disasters that can and have occurred in peacetime.
“Brisbane already have a culture of implementing the most efficient idea when dealing with damage and the ship’s company continually seeks to refine damage control procedures,” Lieutenant Commander McLeod said.
“It’s their great attitude that will set them up for excellence in the years to come.”
The second week of the MSE was challenging, however the crew learnt a lot about how to deal with complex scenarios and with the help of Sea Training Group, will continue to strive to create a positive learning culture when it comes to damage control.
With MSE completed, the men and women in Brisbane will now seek to continue their progress as they head into Seaworthiness Assurance Trials.
These trials will involve conducting baseline performance tests of weapon systems and sensors at sea.
Brisbane’s final work up assessment will be her Deployment Readiness Evaluation, which will involve basic combat training while conducting evolutions under the observation of Sea Training Group.
Brisbane is set to sail to the United States later in the year to conduct Combat System Qualification Trials as part of her final step in achieving Initial Operating Capability.