CTF 150 - team building training

Published on LCDR Jacqueline Swinton (author)

Location(s): Blue Mountains National Park, NSW

Topic(s): Training, Operation MANITOU, Deployment, Adventure Training

Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) Rotation 9 group photograph during a team building exercise in the Blue Mountains.  (photo: Unknown)
Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) Rotation 9 group photograph during a team building exercise in the Blue Mountains.

A team from the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and the Defence Science Technology Group, are preparing to take command of the next rotation for Combined Task Force 150 in the Middle East.

The ninth rotation of an Australian-led team will be commanded by Australian Navy Commodore, Malcolm Wise. 

Commander Task Force 150 is responsible for maritime security to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorist organisations use to fund or conceal their movements. The Task Force works closely with a 29-nation Combined Maritime Forces headquartered in Bahrain to bring stability and confidence to the region to maintain safe passage to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. 

In preparation, the 26 person team recently completed three days in the Blue Mountains, under the re-invigorated Navy adventure training program. 

Adventure training is a method used in building individual resilience and physical toughness as well as enhancing team development and capability. It consists of many challenging physical activities including abseiling, canyoning and bushwalking; all of which were designed to remove members from their comfort zone and place them in high-stress situations.

For some, this included overcoming fears of dizzying heights or enclosed spaces; a test of true mental fortitude.

For others, it was the physically demanding challenge of enduring a tough climb through a canyon in and out of freezing waters while carrying a heavy pack. 

The adventure training certainly provided an ideal opportunity to get to know one another, form trust and bonds that will serve them well on their upcoming deployment.

The Canadian campers were particularly impressed by the numerous wildlife sightings which included wallabies, kangaroos, wombats and even a goanna! 

Captain Christopher Ross of the Royal Canadian Navy spoke of the importance of the activity.

“The adventure training was a great opportunity for the Australian and Canadian Navy participants to come together and work as a team in such a challenging environment,” he said.

Having tackled abseiling sessions at Mount York, at cliffs of modest heights of eight metres, then 20 metres the team tackled the multi-pitch, 240-metre cliff at Malaita Point; an equally beautiful and daunting challenge, with the nearby landscape of the Three Sisters, keeping a close watchful eye.

Many faced weak knees and sweaty palms as they approached the cliff drop preparing to lower themselves over the steep rock face with team encouragement eventually spurring them over.  

This reprieve was briefly enjoyed, as the next task was to embark the 1000 steps trek up the Furber Steps-Scenic Railway track back to the original start point.

The final event was a canyoning adventure, which combined and put to the test new skills. This involved trekking, abseiling through the wet caves and swimming in icy cold water before trekking back up steep bush tracks.  

Combined Task Force 150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East. HMAS Newcastle has also recently been deployed as part of the coalition forces in the region.