Mine Warfare and Divers in deep

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author), ABIS Leo Baumgartner (photographer), LSIS Kayla Jackson (photographer), LSIS Craig Walton (photographer)

Topic(s): Clearance Diving Teams, Exercise DUGONG, Operation RENDER SAFE

File image: Navy Clearance Divers from HMAS Diamantina prepare to dive beneath the ship during training while deployed in the Indian Ocean. (photo: LSIS Kayla Jackson)
File image: Navy Clearance Divers from HMAS Diamantina prepare to dive beneath the ship during training while deployed in the Indian Ocean.

The successes of Navy’s Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Community over the past 12 months is set to continue with support to multiple deployments throughout the region underway.

Officers and Sailors from the community attended a ‘clear lower deck’ at HMAS Waterhen this week, where they received an update from Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead on the achievements across the community.

The Fleet Commander also highlighted the current and imminent deployments forecast for the remainder of 2019.

Traditionally, a ‘clear lower deck’ is a naval order for all hands on board a ship to muster in one area, usually to be addressed by a senior commander.

At the clear lower deck, Rear Admiral Mead said the Clearance Diving course was under revision to ensure the mine warfare and clearance diving capability in Navy accurately represented the requirements of the future.

He said he was confident the community would remain among the best in the world.

“We have seen a real change in the way in which we determine suitability for our Clearance Diver courses - it’s no longer just about brute strength, it’s about cognitive ability, a positive attitude and a drive to succeed in passing one of the hardest courses Navy has to offer,” he said.

Rear Admiral Mead also cited the number of recent overseas deployments and how their successes had shaped upcoming tasks.

HMAS Diamantina has already deployed as far as Sri Lanka this year and by the time she returns from her next deployment she will have sailed more nautical miles in one year than any other Minehunter in Navy’s history.

“HMA Ships Gascoyne and Huon deployed to Japan and South Korea for international exercises late last year with such resounding success that Diamantina and Gascoyne will go back again this year, this time with an embarked Commander Task Group and staff.

Operation RENDER SAFE begins soon with HMA Ships Adelaide and Huon undertaking one of our highest priority tasks in the South West Pacific.

“An MCD element will be embarked in Adelaide for her next deployment though the region,” the Fleet Commander said.

Rear Admiral Mead said the demand for the skills and experience of the MCD Community meant training with allied nations was vital to mission success.

“Australian Clearance Dive Teams One and Four are in Guam on the multinational Exercise HYDRACRAB, and we will also take part in the annual United Nations Multi-National Mine Warfare Exercise off South Korea and Exercise HYUGA NADA with Japan later this year.

“Western Australia will also host Exercise DUGONG - a Five Eyes activity with Australian Clearance Diving Team Four leading.

“Our allies have personally described to me the outstanding performance of our people on exercises overseas over the past year, and we should be very proud of that,” he said.

Citing the recently published allegations of misconduct within the Clearance Diver Branch, Rear Admiral Mead said a healthy culture within the MCD Group was crucial to continuing to meet Navy’s objectives and it was evident that a significant effort was being placed in remediating the culture across the group.

“More than four years ago, we launched a targeted cultural improvement program to stop reported behaviour within the Clearance Diver Branch that was contrary to an otherwise highly regarded community,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

“Pleasingly, evidence shows that significant cultural changes have occurred within the branch and I urge everyone to continue to make sustainable and positive change as it is the only way we can achieve our warfighting potential,” he told the assembled officers and sailors.