Navy’s role in the Group of Twenty (G20) Leaders’ Summit Security Task Force is helping to keep the Brisbane River safe.
Lieutenant Sean Aitken of the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Group based at HMAS Kuttabul is the Officer in Charge of the Navy Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Force Element deployed to support the G20.
Their role is to provide support for the Queensland Police Service with side-scan sonar searches of the Brisbane River which are conducted by a team of five sailors
A six man maritime explosive ordnance disposal detachment is also deployed to assist the police if required.
Lieutenant Aitken said the team deployed in September to do their original side-scans of the Brisbane River.
“It took us close to four days to scan the key bridges and waterways in accordance with the Defence Aid to the Civil Community request,” Lieutenant Aitken said.
“In the recent preparation for the G20 it took the team two days to do a final re-scan, but the post-mission analysis takes as long as each mission.
“Being a part of the G20 Security Task Force is a good opportunity to be involved in a real-life joint-operation and has helped us develop our inter-service and external agencies cooperation in a different area.
“Our mission is simple, its business as usual for us, the only difference is we are reporting to Army for the G20, which means we had to help Army understand what we do and how we do it.”
The Navy detachment is using a diesel tiller-driven 7.2 metre ridged hull inflatable boat similar to a Zodiac.
The side-scan sonar is towed alongside the vessel to provide data of the river bed which is then analysed to identify if there are any explosive devices or suspicious objects that may warrant a visual inspection by a clearance diver.
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator - Mine Warfare Nimai Walsh of HMAS Waterhen said his normal role was as a sonar operator with the Huon-class Mine Hunter Coastal.
“One of my challenges of G20 was moving the small boat in-between the Brisbane ferries while conducting our sonar tracks to acquire contacts,” Able Seaman Walsh said.
“It’s definitely good to get off a large ship and do some out-of-category work with a diverse group of people in sunny Brisbane.
“It was also a great opportunity to work with the Queensland Police Service and assist in providing security for the public and everyone involved in the G20.”
Lieutenant Aitken said the integration with the Queensland Police Service began with the G20 Finance Meeting in Cairns, which means they have been building on the relationship during the past six months.
“The Queensland Police Service have conducted their own side-scans and we have exchanged data which has confirmed by the two different systems that the river is clear,” Lieuteant Aitken said.
“We have also conducted training with the Police divers that has helped us build our rapport and understand each other’s standard operating procedures.
“Now we have conducted our final search we will be on stand-by to assist the Police with any maritime search tasks required during the G20.”
Additional imagery is available at: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143310.