Submarine trainers cap a big year in a major way

Published on LEUT Kelli Lunt (author), CPOETSM Ross Euing (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Sirius (A266)

Sea Training Unit Submarines (STU-SM) conduct a force protection exercise on HMAS Farncomb, alongside at Fleet Base West. (photo: CPOETSM Ross Euing)
Sea Training Unit Submarines (STU-SM) conduct a force protection exercise on HMAS Farncomb, alongside at Fleet Base West.

A focus on Force Protection by the Sea Training Unit - Submarines (STU-SM) this year not only improved this necessary competency across the Navy’s fleet of submarines, but also provided unique support to HMAS Sirius in October.

Prior to Sirius’s deployment to Exercise BERSAMA LIMA 2013 in Malaysia, as a last minute tasking STU-SM personnel stepped in to provide Force Protection training to the MFU when other units were unavailable.

Fleet Submarine Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Commander Susan Harris said force protection became a dedicated focus this year, having taken a bit of a backseat in the past due to other collective competency priorities, and the opportunity to support Sirius reinforced their hard work.

“Despite the obvious size difference, there was actually a considerable amount of similarity in the sorts of problems encountered between Sirius and submarines. Examples include the smaller crews and complexities in providing the right security to the right place at the right time,” LCDR Harris said.

“It was an excellent opportunity to enhance our Force Protection skills on another platform, as well as reinforce that we are all one Navy, with the same requirements and similar challenges.”

LCDR Harris said STU-SM had worked closely with their sister Sea Training Units for Major Fleet Units and Minor War Vessels to improve the training package through the delivery of education and training, improving the knowledge to the Submarine Training and Systems Centre.

“We faced some challenges initially when addressing an improved training package for Force Protection as there seemed to be a general lack of awareness and understanding from the more junior members of the squadron, who had never witnessed Force Protection or understood why it was done.

“There is no doubt that standards have significantly improved. The crews’ attitudes were always excellent, but now they have the focus and the base skills to draw from to confidently conduct continuation training in between STU-SM assessments.

“We have received excellent feedback on how to improve the package further, suggestions on improved equipment for Force Protection on submarines also. The crews are now proactive in their thinking regarding Force Protection.

“In addition to incorporating feedback from the lessons learned back into the training system, we have also improved our STU-SM website and included lessons learned for the crews to read and consider prior to conducting their training package.

“Chief Petty Officer Electronics Warfare Submariner Richard Storr has been at the forefront of our Force Protection invigoration. He had a vision to change what we were doing and has worked hard and coordinated all training requirements to make it happen,” LCDR Harris said.

Commander STU-SM, Commander Michael Manfield said his team of eleven, who provide Sea Collective training and assessment to the directed level of capability for submarines, have certainly proven their worth in the submarine community and now in the wider fleet.

“2013 has been an incredibly busy period for STU-SM. In addition to ensuring three submarines achieved mission readiness, our focus on improving force protection training has been successful in our ability to share knowledge to train and support Sirius,” CMDR Manfield said.

“Force Protection will continue to be a priority for STU-SM training. It has been included in the schedule of events for Operational Workups and will be assessed along with all the other group competencies within this training period. The Squadron can also expect some un-alerted FP training in the new year.”

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