Minehunters bring in the big catch

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

Topic(s): HMAS Diamantina (M86), HMAS Gascoyne (M85), North East Asia Deployment, Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX)

Clearance Divers from HMAS Diamantina bring the recovery line to the sweep deck. (photo: LEUT Anthony Martin)
Clearance Divers from HMAS Diamantina bring the recovery line to the sweep deck.

HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne taking part in the Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX 19) off the coast of the Republic of Korea have been successful in the important tasks of location, verification and removal of underwater mines.

As MIWEX 19 draws to a close, the recovery of inert training mines used during the exercise is critical as the inert devices are shaped like operational mines, laid on the seabed in a realistic manner.

Recovery of the training equipment uses many of the same diving, locating and securing skills utilised in dealing with real mines, with Clearance Divers being deployed underwater to secure a marker and recovery line to the devices.

The process then turns into a whole-ship seamanship evolution to recover the devices onto the ship. 

With a combined weight of nearly 400 kilograms, it is a slow and steady task to bring the securing weight and training mine to the surface. 

Once on the surface, the securing weight and mine are hoisted on to the quarterdeck of the recovering ship. 

The Commanding Officer of Diamantina, Lieutenant Commander Darren McDevitt, said that the training device recovery is a great opportunity.

“To have the Clearance Divers and Mine Warfare sailors work together to safely recover the training device is an invaluable training opportunity that will be of benefit to future operations,” he said.

“To have successfully recovered the training devices is evidence of our achievements during the exercise.”

Using the ships Hi-Ab Davit the crew on HMAS Diamantina recover the training ‘inert’ mine.

Using the ships Hi-Ab Davit the crew on HMAS Diamantina recover the training ‘inert’ mine.

In conjunction with the crew conducting the recovery, the Bridge team ensures the ship remains in the best position to aid in the deck work required to bring the equipment onboard safely. 

Diamantina’s Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Tim Carlin, was responsible for keeping his ship on the right track during this critical phase. 

“The main engine is not used during these operations,” Lieutenant Carlin said.

“The ship relies on the Auxiliary Propulsion Units to maintain position while we conduct Mine Warfare operations, making the whole procedure more challenging.”

The crew was proudly able to gather for a ‘job well done’ on the quarterdeck following the evolution, where they could see the proof of their efforts over the last week of mine warfare operations. 

The minehunters, HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne, joined by a Task Group Command team, are taking part in the Multinational Mine Countermeasure Symposium and MIWEX 19 in the Republic of Korea as part of a four-month North East Asian Deployment.