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August 19, 2010
chieved a significant milestone on June 9 when she became the first
arine to be docked at the new $35-million ASC facility, just a bit more
w from her homeport at HMAS Stirling. Michael Brooke reports. HMAS Farncomb is presently manned
by Crew Four, a reduced-sized crew.
Throughout 2010 the submarine
is being utilised as a training plat-
form and concurrently undergoing a series
of maintenance periods. While at ASC,
the submarine is conducting an intermedi-
ate docking (ID) at the purpose-built West
Australian Submarine Support Facility
LCDR Peter Ashen, Senior Officer of Crew
Four, said the new ASC facility marked not
only a first for Farncomb but all the Collins sub-
marines, which now only need to travel to ASC
in South Australia for Full Cycle Docking (FCD)
or other equally-significant maintenance.
"It was an 18-hour evolution to get
Farncomb from Stirling to Henderson, position
her in the new floating dock and, by the end of
the day, have her transferred to the hard-stand
ashore," he said.
"The entire evolution went very well and
reflected much credit on the wide range of
agencies involved, be they RAN or commer-
cial. On the RAN side the support to Crew
Four by FBW Port Services and the Submarine
Support Group were critical.
"Docking a submarine at WASSF is less
time-consuming than sailing to Adelaide, as
submarines have previously been required to
do for some maintenance periods, which could
mean months away from home in WA."
LCDR Ashen said during her ID Farncomb
was having a wide range of critical mainte-
nance and URDEF rectification work under-
"In addition to this, Farncomb will still be
able to help Part Three trainees complete
many sections of their task book, and ultimate-
ly earn their Dolphins," he said.
These new submariners are critical to the
regrowth of the submarine workforce and the
expansion of Crew Four to a fully manned crew
by December 2011.
"During the ID the nucleus of Crew Four will
have a dozen or more Part Three trainees with
us at anyone time," LCDR Ashen said.
"There is the potential for a good many
trainees to complete two thirds of their task
book aboard before going to sea on one of the
three operational boats, where they will earn
"To be a good submariner you must know
your platform and Farncomb will help many
budding submariners achieve this, before they
undertake the challenge of serving in a boat
at sea, which is always a mighty steep learn-
ing curve. These boats are very complex plat-
forms; it takes a lot of time and effort just to get
around the boat and learn how she works."
LCDR Ashen said the aim of Navy, ASC,
DMO and the other contactors was to have
Farncomb ready for sea in 2011, when Crew
Four would transfer submarines with Crew
Two, presently serving in Collins. Crew Two,
already well experienced, should then have a
submarine in good shape ready for a busy year
of operational commitments.
"The level of cooperation between all agen-
cies to achieve this demanding schedule is
excellent" LCDR Ashen said.
He said Crew Four would then take Collins
and subsequently Waller through busy mainte-
nance periods next year, while gradually build-
ing up crew numbers and continuing to support
Part Three trainees.
Crew Four is scheduled to be fully manned
in December 2011, when it is required to man
HMAS Sheean on completion of her FCD in
Adelaide, and take her through work-ups to
being a fully-operational submarine.
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