Editor’s Note: Please note that this activity took place before COVID-19 social distancing restrictions were put in place. Defence is currently following whole-of-government guidance from the Department of Health in relation to COVID-19. For more information on Defence’s response to COVID-19, visit https://news.defence.gov.au/national/defence-response-covid-19.
Earlier this year, before physical distancing was required, eighteen Navy Cadets from around Australia successfully navigated a series of maritime duties and drills in a three-day training camp aimed at giving them hands-on experience of what it’s like to work in the Royal Australian Navy.
The pilot Maritime Skills Camp was held at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Launceston, Tasmania, and brought together cadets from the Torrens (South Australia), Lonsdale (Victoria) and Kellatie (Tasmania) Flotillas.
“We wanted to deliver a unique and exciting training program that combined maritime skills, teamwork, self-discipline, communal living and having fun,” Commander Stuart Wheeler, Director Australian Navy Cadets, said.
“It was important that we had some ‘wow’ factors to keep the Cadets interested, but also that we gave them a real feel for what it could be like to work in a Navy career.”
The program included hands-on seamanship activities, coastal navigation and ship handling, an introduction to marine engineering, fire-fighting and survival-at- sea drills.
Cadets trained on a full ship’s bridge and a tug bridge at the Centre for Maritime Simulation and also worked in the Model Test Basin, which simulates wave motion and harbour configurations.
“It would be so awesome to drive a real Navy ship,” Cadet Leading Seaman Ivy O’Halloran said after safely navigating her ‘ship’ through Sydney Heads on the Australian Maritime College’s bridge trainer.
The Cadets donned firefighting rig for practical training at the College’s marine fire-training centre, and escaped into life rafts from a mock ship’s superstructure at the Survival Centre.
The training culminated in exciting hands-on evolutions on the Tamar River aboard MV Reviresco, where Cadets performed ship handling, coastal navigation, man-overboard drills, emergency steering, collision avoidance (rule of the road) and anchoring and berthing techniques.
Other Cadets worked deep in the hull of the training ship MV Stephen Brown, a former coal carrier, on group engineering activities that required a high level of teamwork and focus.
Commander Wheeler said the Cadets demonstrated Navy values through their personal commitment and teamwork and he believed the Maritime Skills Camp was an excellent introduction to the Royal Australian Navy.
“These lucky Cadets had such fun and experienced more aspects of Navy life than many members could hope for during their careers. It made me wish I was a Cadet!”