Surveying Dampier Strait ‘with determination’

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Matthew Rodert (author)

Location(s): Dampier Strait, PNG

Topic(s): HMAS Shepparton (A03), HMAS Melville (A246), HMAS Benalla (A04)

HMAS Melville conducts survey operations in Papua New Guinean waters.

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HMAS Melville conducts survey operations in Papua New Guinean waters.

As part of the Royal Australian Navy’s ongoing commitment to its historically strong partnership with its regional neighbour Papua New Guinea, a number of Hydrographic Surveying vessels have been deployed to improve charting accuracy in the region.

Hydrographic vessels, namely Her Majesty’s Australian Ships Melville, Benalla and Shepparton, have been working collaboratively and ‘with determination’, to conduct in-shore and sea-lane passage sounding to improve charting in the area for the benefit local stakeholders.

The survey area of operations is situated within the Dampier Strait and Bismarck Sea.

Positive outcomes of the work will include safer sea-lanes for commercial shipping, enhanced opportunities for local industry and greater in-shore access to regional sea-goers alike.

Lieutenant Commander Michael Kumpis, Melville’s Commanding Officer, said the Royal Australian Navy sought to enhance local development and strengthen relationships across and beyond navy through deployment such as these.

“This deployment is one of numerous being conducted by Royal Australian Navy ships throughout the pacific region as part of our mission to have a continuous presence in the region and enhance our partnerships with our Pacific island neighbours.”

“Improving charting will deliver immediate benefits to the people of Papua New Guinea by making seafaring safer for trade, transit, the fishing industry and recreational mariners. “

“This is a service that the men and women of Melville, Benalla and Shepparton are proud to be able to provide to our friends in this region,” Lieutenant Commander Kumpis said.

Over the past few weeks the Paluma Class Survey Motor Launch vessels Benalla and Shepparton have been undertaking Survey Operations within Papua New Guinea.

On arrival at the survey grounds, Melville’s Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander Andrew Shiels met with the Commanding Officer of Benalla, Lieutenant Commander Adrian Eddy and Commanding Officer of Shepparton, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Gabbott, to discuss the Regional Engagement opportunity and the conduct of the survey task.

The Dampier Strait is a unique and challenging operating environment with steep coastal features, numerous shoals and reef formations keeping surveyors on their toes.