Navy takes note of boarding party innovation

Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), ABIS James McDougall (photographer)

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jacob Machen with the boarding party waterproof notebook at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria. (photo: ABIS James McDougall  )
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jacob Machen with the boarding party waterproof notebook at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jacob Machen, a member of Navy's Patrol Boat Crew Ardent Three boarding party, has earned congratulations from among his mates for suggesting a significant improvement to a vital piece of their kit issue.

Each member of a boarding party carries a pocket size notebook which is specifically designed to record evidence and other information gathered during a boarding which may later be used in court.

However the paper notebooks often become useless in wet environments.

Able Seaman Machen was able to draw on his previous experience as a diver to solve this recurring problem.

"During boarding operations the weather can turn on us and start to rain. The original notebook didn’t have weatherproof paper and the contents would sometimes smudge," he recalled.

It was just after Ardent Three had completed a boarding when Able Seaman Machen found himself presented with the opportunity to challenge and innovate.

"Post boarding operation we were sat down by our command team and asked if we had any ideas to improve our boarding capabilities.

"I stuck my hand up and I said, why can’t we make the boarding operations notebook out of the same waterproof material as diving logs?" he said.

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jacob Machen (right) shows the boarding party waterproof notebook to Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Daniel Chun at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jacob Machen (right) shows the boarding party waterproof notebook to Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Daniel Chun at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

It was a light bulb moment and one that Captain Mark Hill, Program Director of New Generation Navy, has described as an outstanding example of how a sailor's decision to stand up and be heard has led to a significant improvement in the way Navy does business.

"Innovation remains a key theme of the New Generation Navy Program  It is about improving both our Navy and ourselves," Captain Hill said.

"Able Seaman Machen saw a problem and did something about it. We can all learn something from Jacob’s innovative thinking.

"Credit should also go to those in his command chain under Lieutenant Commander Mick Miller who listened and acted on his idea," Captain Hill said.

The result was well worth the effort. Able Seaman Machen’s initial concept is now being rolled out across the Australian Defence Force with waterproof OC170 Notebooks now available. The old notebooks are being used as training aids by Defence Police Training centres.

Able Seaman Machen has since moved on, recently graduating as a Physical Trainer from the ADF Physical Training Instructors’ Course, at HMAS Cerberus but he hopes his idea inspires other Navy members.

"‘Innovation is crucial in the Navy. It enhances our capability to effectively achieve our mission," he said.

Want to see more? Go to  http://video.navy.gov.au/.

Additional imagery is available at: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143491.