New facility enhances weapons training

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), LSIS Nadav Harel (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, NSW

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Penguin, Weapons and Decoys

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Bradley Reynolds supervises as Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Armilyn Pontanes conducts a live-fire serial at the Weapons Training Simulation System at HMAS Penguin. (photo: LSIS Nadav Harel)
Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Bradley Reynolds supervises as Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Armilyn Pontanes conducts a live-fire serial at the Weapons Training Simulation System at HMAS Penguin.

Small Arms proficiency is a core skill of the weapon user categories in the Royal Australian Navy. It is also a key requirement for temporary weapons users such as those personnel assigned as Boarding Parties and undertaking Force Protection roles.

Recently the training support to meet this requirement was substantially enhanced with the opening of a new Weapons Training Simulation System (WTSS) at HMAS Penguin in Sydney’s northern suburbs. This is the third WTSS facility for the Navy and the first unit to be operated solely by Australian Navy uniform personnel.

The WTSS system provides an efficient and cost-effective small arms training and skills maintenance capability for the Navy.

The equipment includes the simulation system, associated training and systems which are compatible with in-service weapons such as the F88 Austeyr rifle and 9mm pistol. The system also delivers the capability to train personnel in the .50 calibre heavy machine gun.

The Manager of the new facility, Petty Officer Boatswain Brendon Chaffer leads a system qualified team of five Boatswains Mates who have been trained by the contracted WTSS provider Inveris, to operate and maintain the equipment.

“This will be a perfect pre-work up training facility for the fleet proving training to ship’s force protection teams, gun crews, man overboard sentries and weapon user groups,” he said.

The facility will become a small arms training hub for the Sydney region.

“I am really excited for the opportunity for the team here to deliver this training direct to the fleet and regional units,” said Petty Officer Chaffer.

Small arms training in Sydney has normally been supported by units utilising the WTSS located at Army’s Holsworthy Barracks or travelling interstate to HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, particularly when training is required on the .50 calibre heavy machine gun.

For the Commander Surface Force, Commodore Stephen Hughes, the delivery of the WTSS is the fruition of a dedicated project and a significant achievement for Navy capability, training and fleet support.

“This is an impressive training facility to deliver an effect we have been striving to achieve in this location for a number of years,” he said.

The return of investment being achieved by the opening of a dedicated Navy facility in the Sydney region is significant. Sydney based Fleet units will be able to program training to meet activity schedules without the overheads of personnel travel and accommodation.

Ship’s staff will provide range supervisors to conduct practices and WTSS personnel will deliver a full scope of range activities from standard live-fire practices through to ship’s force protection scenarios.

“During the time of a global pandemic, travel and training has been impacted and being able to reduce the associated cost and time of sending personnel interstate will provide substantial savings to Navy and Defence,” said Commodore Hughes.

The HMAS Penguin WTSS is located in Balmoral in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The new facility will commence training activities in October.