Tri-lateral mine warfare exercise puts RAN Minehunters to the test

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author and photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Gascoyne (M85), HMAS Huon (M82)

The forecastle team on HMAS Gascoyne standing smart during the ship's departure from Kure Naval Base, Japan. (photo: LEUT Tony Martin)
The forecastle team on HMAS Gascoyne standing smart during the ship's departure from Kure Naval Base, Japan.

At the largest gathering of mine warfare dedicated vessels seen in Japanese waters, HMA Ships Gascoyne and Huon have joined with 22 ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the United States Navy (USN) to participate in the first joint mine warfare exercise in the region, Exercise HYUGA NADA 18.

Over the next week the combined units will focus on conducting joint training in mine hunting, underwater explosive ordnance disposal, underwater mine disposal vehicle operations and joint interoperability activities.

For Gascoyne’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Alex Rayner, the exercise is a unique and rewarding opportunity to test the Navy’s mine warfare skills in a challenging environment.

“We are four thousand miles from home conducting a mine warfare exercise with regional partners, something we haven’t had a chance to do before,” LEUT Rayner said.

A significant aspect of the exercise will be the diving operations and training in underwater explosive ordnance disposal.

Gascoyne’s Executive and Diving Officer, Lieutenant Jason Dawson noted that the conditions suited diving operations and would benefit training opportunities.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day to dive, it can only add to the positive outcomes we expect from the experience,” LEUT Dawson said.

The RAN ships will also join with mine hunters from the JMSDF to deploy mine disposal vehicles as a key component of the search for underwater mines.

For Chief Petty Officer Mine Warfare Simon East it will be a chance to demonstrate his team’s capability in the search of underwater mines to other nations.

“This is what we are trained to do and it is great to put our skills on display,” CPO East said.

Additional activities during the exercise have included cross-decking for crew members to further share skills and experience, as well as ships boat operations, seamanship and navigation.