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LEUT Sarah West
HMAS Newcastle's Marine
Engineering Department is on a mis-
sion to enhance and develop the pro-
fessional knowledge and competen-
cies of its marine technicians (MT)
while deployed to the MEAO.
Midway through the ship's six-
month deployment, Newcastle has
already conducted more than 100
Despite the ship's high operational
tempo, the Marine Engineering (ME)
Department has gone from strength-
to-strength, thanks to the mentoring of
some forward-thinking senior sailors
and a willingness to learn among its
CPOMT Julie Cocks said the ship's
operational deployment was proving
to be advantageous to her department's
"The best time for any ship to con-
duct training is when it is at sea, so
we recognised early on that this six-
month deployment would be the per-
fect opportunity to do some quality
training and progress the careers of our
sailors," she said.
"The senior sailors in the depart-
ment have been extremely focused
on lifting the standards of knowledge
across the board.
"They are not only mentoring those
who are studying towards gaining new
qualifications, but also helping those
that already hold competencies to
broaden the depth of their knowledge."
At sea, MT sailors hold watches
in the Central Control Station and in
the engine spaces, by day and night,
to monitor the ship's ME systems and
make sure the vessel has sufficient
power and propulsion to carry out its
Within each watch there's a hier-
archy of responsibility which sailors
climb as they gain new operator quali-
The levels of responsibility in the
MT career continuum include marine
systems technicians, who monitor the
ship's auxiliary equipment and power
functions from inside the engine spaces,
electronic plant control console opera-
tors (EPCC), who monitor high power
generation, marine systems controllers,
who serve as the second in charge of the
watch, and marine systems managers,
who manage the ship's ME systems on
behalf of the marine engineering officer.
Career progression in the ME
department requires MT sailors to pass
written and practical exams.
CPO Cocks said her sailors needed
to gain both practical experience and
theoretical knowledge in order to prove
their competence at each level.
She said the department's mentor-
ing scheme had been instrumental in
helping its junior sailors to reach the
"One example of the department's
dedication to training has been the
implementation of an EPCC master
class," CPO Cocks said.
"The class has really helped the
sailors improve their knowledge and
skills, so we have slowly expanded it to
include training for switchboard opera-
tion and ship's fitted systems, such as
air conditioning and refrigeration."
CPO Cocks said the increased focus
on training and career progression was
having a positive effect on everyone in
"This passion for training has led to
a large number of watch-keeping qual-
ifications being accomplished during
the first half of our deployment, which
means more of our sailors can share the
load of the operational watch-keeping
routine," she said.
"This has eased the burden of day-
in, day-out watch-keeping, which has
brought the ME department closer as a
As well as conducting regular mas-
ter classes, damage control exercises
and table-top discussions, Newcastle's
ME Command Team has planned and
executed engineering casualty control
drills every day at sea since arriving in
"The practical training evolutions
we have conducted will give our MTs
the experience and confidence to deal
with real, unplanned incidents at sea,"
CPO Cocks said.
"The energy we are putting into the
training of our people is well worth the
"The more we can get individual
members to a level where they dem-
onstrate professional technical knowl-
edge and competence, the easier the
job becomes for everyone in the depart-
Fifteen personnel out of 40 in
Newcastle's ME Department have
gained new qualifications since the ship
arrived in the MEAO on May 27.
"That's nearly half our people and
we're only at the half-way mark of our
deployment. That's pretty impressive
considering 60 per cent of the depart-
ment has never been on an operational
deployment before," CPO Cocks said.
"We will keep striving for profes-
sional development until we return to
Sydney in October, and beyond."
LEUT Sarah West
HMAS Newcastle has conducted two
replenishment at sea (RAS) opera-
tions in two weeks with one of the
world's biggest combat supply vessels
in the MEAO.
Newcastle received fuel on both
occasions from the US Naval Ship
(USNS) Rainier allowing the Australian
warship to continue her counter-piracy
mission without needing to visit a port
During the first RAS, Newcastle
took on 165,000 litres of marine diesel
fuel and 31,000 litres of aviation fuel
by conducting a liquids down aft and
simultaneously using a heavy jackstay
CPOB Greg Morris said heavy jack-
stays were an efficient method of trans-
ferring stores between ships at sea.
"The heavy jackstay is a method of
transferring heavy stores or ammunition
from a supply ship to ours, by personnel
heaving on lines which are hooked up to
both ships," he said.
"It is capable of a higher rate of
transfer than vertical (helicopter)
replenishment, but requires us to main-
tain station on the supply ship for a long
"We didn't need stores on this occa-
sion, but we transferred a test weight to
meet mutual training targets. We wanted
to prove our rig, while Rainier used the
evolution to conduct training for her
The second RAS allowed
Newcastle to take on another 320,000
Dancing with Rainier again
litres of diesel and 15,000 litres
of aviation fuel from the 49,000-
In a role swap, Newcastle's
XO LCDR Stuart Muller assumed
command to control the second
RAS from the ship's bridge, while
CO CMDR Paul O'Grady acted as
the evolution safety officer.
The second RAS with Rainier
was Newcastle's eighth since
arriving in the MEAO on May
27. She had previously also been
replenished by USNS Medgar
Evers, USNS Patuxent, French
Ship Somme (on three occasions)
and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort
"Replenishment at sea dem-
onstrates the outstanding level of
cooperation that exists between
coalition vessels operating in this
region. Replenishing at sea allows
us to stay out here, focused on our
maritime security mission," CMDR
"With all this practise,
Newcastle's evolutions teams are
highly proficient and doing a fan-
REFUELLING AT SEA: HMAS Newcastle and USS Rainier pass
a test weight via heavy jackstay while conducting a replenishment
at sea -- liquids.
Photo: LEUT Sarah West
Newcastle depl ment
ON OPERATION: HMAS Newcastle
conducts a security patrol in the Arabian
Gulf. Inset, AB Phil Mercieca and AB Blake
Wade work on the degaussing system.
Photos: POIS Ollie Garside
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