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Regional Manager Outer Sydney
February 18, 2010
By CMDR Andy Clowes
AFTER cyclones Neville and Olga
formed off the Queensland coast in
late January, a decision was made
to move the Navy's attached ves-
sel, Malu Baizam, from Thursday
Island to HMAS Cairns.
With no qualified OIC available,
the call went out to Reserve Standby
CMDR Roger Priest, who
works for the Maritime Division
of the Queensland Department of
Transport, took on the task and flew
to Thursday Island ready and roar-
ing to get the job done.
"Queensland Transport have
always been particularly proactive
when it comes to the Reserves and
this occasion was no different,"
CMDR Priest said.
No stranger to the Malu Baizam,
CMDR Priest has driven the boat
many times before during regu-
lar postings as the acting Resident
Naval Officer Thursday Island
(RNOTI) since 2004.
CMDR Priest teamed with
CPOMT Steve Gibson for expert
training and, because the pair had
worked together before in the Torres
DEDICATED: CPO Steve Gibson (left) and CMDR Roger Priest
with Malu Baizam.
Photo: ABBM Clayton Marshall
By LEUT Grant McDuling
A NEW command structure, new oper-
ational requirements and new train-
ing opportunities have resulted in this
year's 'new look' Fleet Concentration
Period (FCP) with participation by
RAN, RNZN and RAAF units.
Running over an eight-week period
that began on February 8, and divided
into four distinct phases, FCP 10-1 will,
for the first time, see concentrated at-sea
exercises involving three weekly 'mini
wars' instead of just one at the end of the
According to Commodore Training,
CDRE Daryl Bates, the aim of FCP 10-1
is to increase the overall readiness of the
"In line with changing operational
requirements and to make maximum
use of available RAAF aircraft during
the at-sea phase, we will be using the
East Australian Exercise Areas (EAXA)
as well as operating off the coast of
Newcastle, Cairns and Townsville and
the Herald Island (HITA), Cowley Beach
(CBTA) and Shoalwater Bay (SWBTA)
Training Areas," CDRE Bates said.
During Phase Zero (February 1-7) the
ships conducted passage to Fleet Base
East or conducted a shakedown in prepa-
ration for Phase One (February 8-14),
which was a week-long harbour phase.
Individual and collective training objec-
tives, as well as the aviation reconstitu-
tion period, were conducted during this
phase. Phase Two (February 15 to March
12) is the sea phase, which sees the Fleet
of RAN and RNZN split up into three
separate task units - Surface Task Unit,
Mine Clearance Diving Task Unit and
Amphibious Task Unit - while HMA
Ships Newcastle and Warramunga will
conduct unit readiness workups, while
HMAS Parramatta completes a mis-
sion readiness workup. Phase Three is
TASMANEX, a five-day tactical transit
to Auckland, New Zealand, for a port
visit followed by the Long Navigation
"This year we will be using lessons
learned from our recent experience in
observing the Royal Navy's sea training
processes," CDRE Bates said.
"The first week at sea will aim to
improve basic mariner skills, followed
by a week each of anti-surface warfare,
anti-air warfare and anti-submarine war-
fare. Each week will culminate in a 'mini
war' where Fleet standards will be meas-
ured to determine the success of training
and progress made towards achieving the
The Mine Clearance Diving Task Unit
will be kept busy during Ex Mulgogger,
which will be conducted in the EAXA
from February 22 to March 19. The
Amphibious Task Group will be tested
during SQUADEX and Ex Sea Lion,
which are basic-level amphibious collec-
tive training activities.
"SQUADEX will take place in the
HITA and CBTA from February 15 to
25, while Ex Sea Lion will take place in
the SWBTA from March 1-12," CDRE
Ships taking part in FCP 10-1 include
HMA Ships Anzac, Darwin, Arunta,
Warramunga, Newcastle, Ballarat,
Sirius, Manoora, Huon, Diamantina,
Gascoyne, Balikpapan, Brunei, Betano,
Labuan, Tarakan,Wewak, Bandicoot and
Wallaroo, along with HMNZ Ships Te
Mana and Canterbury. Aircraft will be
contributed by 723 SQN, 816 SQN, 817
SQN, 92 WNG, 5 SQN, 78 WG, 81 WG,
82 WG, 41 WG, PELAIR and EWTS.
CDRE Bates said lessons learned
throughout FCP 10-1 would be logged
and assessed on a daily basis, with 'fire-
side chats' encouraged between ships'
operations officers and COs.
Rushing to lend a hand
Strait on Malu Baizam, teamwork
fell into place quickly.
Assistant to RNOTI, ABBM
Clayton Marshall, had Malu Baizam
ready to go when they arrived at
Thursday Island, taking care of all
the myriad pre-passage preparations
with victualling, weapons, medical,
safety equipment and chart/ECDIS
The passage south from Thursday
Island went to plan and, after refuel-
ling and rest stops along the way,
Malu Baizam was safely delivered
alongside at HMAS Cairns.
When not working as a sen-
ior manager within the Maritime
Division of Queensland Transport,
CMDR Priest works as an ana-
lyst with the Navy's Geospatial
Intelligence Library providing
amphibious-specific intelligence in
support of the ADF's operations and
exercises. In 2008 he was awarded
the Federation Star after 40 years
service in the Reserves.
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