The ship’s company of HMAS Yarra, one of Australia’s Huon class Mine Hunters, takes mine-hunting personally.
“When we identify a mine-like contact our collective attention rapidly focuses, and all of us appreciate the importance of the task we have in protecting the fleet, and keeping open Australia’s maritime trading routes,” said Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Jason McBain.
Yarra continues to play an integral part of Exercise DUGONG 2015. The exercise, conducted in Hobart between 5-16 October, has successfully tested the interoperability capabilities of the Navy in the conduct of mine counter measures, clearance diving and salvage operations.
Bringing together personnel from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, with observers from India and Sweden, it is the Royal Australian Navy's primary mine warfare and clearance diving training activity. This is the second time the exercise has been held in Tasmanian waters, the first being in 2009.
During the two week exercise, Yarra’s role has been to locate, identify and neutralise underwater threats using her state of the art variable depth sonar and tactical data system along with her organic mine disposal vehicles and clearance diver element.
An additional pressure on Yarra during the exercise has been the requirements of Sea Training Group members of which have been certifying the ship for unit readiness concurrently with Yarra’s participation in Exercise DUGONG 2015.
Lieutenant Commander McBain is understandably proud of his crew.
“The responsiveness and flexibility of my ships company is unique,” he said.
“In Yarra they work in a highly demanding environment and our tasking is often complex and multidimensional.
“All of my crew rise to the challenge, for example I have Combat Systems Operators (Mine Warfare) personnel who are just as capable and competent in being a member of a boarding party as running a computer terminal in the Ops room.
“Another example of the ‘can-do’ attitude of Yarra’s crew are my divers - their skill set is remarkable, not only are they experts in the traditional roles mine warfare, additionally they are capable of turning their hand to anything that is asked of them.
“At this exercise they have had the opportunity to work with and learn from personnel from other nations, which really enhances their preparation for mine countermeasures and diving tasks.
“Conversely, the divers from other nations have also learnt a lot from us in the last two weeks.”
Lieutenant Commander McBain said a strong culture was key to the ship’s success.
“When Yarra is tasked we collaboratively pitch in, not simply to complete a task but to do it well,” he said.
“When I sail from Hobart I want people to say that Yarra was an integral part of the success of the exercise; that we were glad that she was there.”