Officers of the Watch (OOW) in HMAS Ballarat manoeuvred their ship alongside the Indian, Japanese and United States navies during Exercise MALABAR 2020, which recently came to an end.
The team consisted of Lieutenants Matthew Newman, Michael Carpenter, Sean Klamut, and Sub Lieutenant Joel Douglas.
Lieutenant Newman was awarded his platform endorsement while deployed, a qualification that endorses his ability to conduct watches in the Anzac Class frigate.
He said operating within the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group during MALABAR was a new experience with challenges for the entire bridge team.
“The sheer size of the Carrier Strike Group, including how the Nimitz uses its fixed and rotary wing aircraft, requires a higher degree of tactical understanding than would typically be the case for the Australian Navy,” Lieutenant Newman said.
“The busy waterways in which Exercise MALABAR was taking place increases the complexity of operating within a Carrier Strike Group.
“Because we were sailing through some of the world’s busiest shipping routes and in close proximity to sizeable fleets of small fishing vessels, we are responsible for maintaining the navigational safety of the ship while simultaneously achieving the tactical requirements of the force.
“Despite the challenges experienced in the conduct of high-tempo multinational exercises, the bridge team has maintained the precision or professionalism required to keep the ship safe.
“All four Officers of the Watch have worked collaboratively, which has allowed for the seamless execution of command intent across evolutions and watch handovers.”
Lieutenant Klamut said multi-tasking was core to the role.
“It is not an easy task to balance various evolutions, responsibilities and priorities in a high-risk environment, which often extends beyond the bridge and maintaining navigational safety,” Lieutenant Klamut said.
“The ability to plan three or four steps ahead is the key to achieving this.
“Remaining calm is vital for setting the standard of professionalism and building confidence, not only in the Commanding Officer, but in all members of the watch on deck.”
Lieutenant Carpenter said that a foundation of robust, functional teamwork is essential for achieving any operational aim.
“Ballarat depends upon mutual support and interoperability between the many different types of teams on board, across all departments and disciplines, so that she can deliver capability in support of Government objectives,” Lieutenant Carpenter said.