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July 8, 2010
By Michael Brooke
THE crews of HMA Ships Collins
and Dechaineux recently participat-
ed in a realistic Force Protection
Exercise (FPEX) while berthed at
Fleet Base West.
The FPEX is part of unit readi-
ness evaluation for both Collins and
Dechaineux before they participate in
Exercise Kakadu later this year.
The joint FPEX, which spanned
four days from June 11-14, challenged
the sailors to demonstrate their skills
CPO William Nicol, Chief CTSM,
Sea Training Unit -- Submarines, said
the FPEX challenged the submariners
to apply their understanding of the
ADF Rules of Engagement (ROE) to
deal with a range of threat scenarios.
He said the FPEX helped the sail-
ors hone their small arms skills, par-
ticularly the F89 Minimi, F88 Steyr
and the Browning 9mm pistol, using a
range of challenging scenarios.
"Not many submariners get the
opportunity to train with small arms in
a scenario-driven situation so this was
really invaluable training for them,"
CPO Nicol said the FPEX included
low-intensity scenarios such as pro-
testers and activists, as well as high-
intensity scenarios including an armed
The opposition were played by
divers from AUSCDT Four who used
a Zodiac RHIB to manoeuvre close
to the submarines before simulating
opening fire with small arms.
The use of blank ammunition
added to the realism of the training
scenario because the stutter of machi-
negun fire and cordite smoke com-
bined to enshroud Diamantina Wharf
where both submarines were berthed.
The submariners said they enjoyed
all the training scenarios where,
in accordance with the ROE, they
returned fire using a mix of Styers and
SMN Danny Kay, who recently
transferred from the RAAF to the
Silent Service, returned fire with a
Minimi mounted on Collins' fin.
"I was upper-deck sentry on the
submarine and got the opportunity to
use the F89 to help repel the attack-
ers," he said.
PO Tracey Small was involved in
planning the FPEX, as well as leading
the quick reaction team, which served
to hone her leadership skills while pro-
viding the opportunity to use her 9mm
pistol to shoot back at the opposition.
PO Small, who has been a subma-
riner for 11 of the 18 years she has
served in the RAN, said the training
was as realistic as it could be, "without
somebody shooting real bullets at us".
Posted to Collins as the EW1, PO
Small said safety was a paramount
concern during the conduct of the
"We made sure everyone was com-
petent with their weapon and confi-
dent with the stoppage drills before we
even started this exercise," she said.
CPO Nicol said the FPEX also
tested the negotiation skills of the sub-
mariners by challenging them to deal
with a situation using the appropriate
level of force in order to prevent it
from escalating into a major incident.
"The major lesson learnt by the
junior sailors today was how quickly
things can escalate and really get out
of hand," he said.
"The submariners assigned with
keeping watch during this FPEX fol-
lowed their procedures and managed
to deal with all these challenges really
well," he said.
Submariners test their skills
CPO Nicol said Collins and
Dechaineux had recently completed
their safety exercises and would soon
begin their unit readiness evaluation
before tackling other exercises later
HONING SKILLS: The first lines are thrown as HMAS Dechaineux arrives at
Fleet Base West. The crews of Dechaineux and HMAS Collins recently par-
ticipated in a realistic force protection exercise.
Photo: ABIS Dove Smithett
For further information or queries about
careers in submarines, contact the
Submarine Recruiting Team on (08)
9553 3821, (08) 9553 3734 or email
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