HMAS Newcastle’s Clearance Divers (CDs) have been keeping their core skills finely tuned by conducting regular training at sea in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).
Having already demonstrated their underwater rigging expertise to remove an obstruction from Newcastle’s propeller shaft, the four CDs have also spent hours practising their counter improvised explosive device (CIED) techniques and explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) skills.
The Australian warship will visit numerous foreign ports over the course of her six-month operational deployment. One of the major capabilities that CDs contribute to the ship’s mission is the ability to locate explosive devices and neutralise them.
Petty Officer Clearance Diver (POCD) Brenton Walters said the task required an expert knowledge of explosives and the use of some highly specialised equipment.
“Along with our dive gear, we have a TALON Remote Piloted Vehicle (a bomb disposal robot), an EOD-9 Bomb-suit and various counter-IED weapons. We also have an x-ray unit.
“Overall, this equipment gives us the ability to deal with any explosives threats that occur during the deployment both above and below the waterline,” he said.
Newcastle’s EOD team routinely run EOD and CIED training sessions during Newcastle’s maritime security patrols, to ensure they remain up to the task.
“We have a responsibility to be adequately prepared to deal with any situation that occurs while we are in the MEAO,” POCD Walters said.
“To that end, we also take part in the ship’s Force Protection procedures.”
Newcastle is in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) assigned to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.
The deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.
Press Release, August 23, 2013; Image: Australian Navy