By LCDR Alistair Barber ANC, Flotilla Commander, Kellatie Flotilla
18 Cadets and 4 adult members from Torrens, Lonsdale and Kellatie Flotillas attended the Australian Maritime College (AMC) from Monday 20 January to Thursday 23 January 2020 for a pilot programme for the AMC Maritime Skills Camp.
CAPTION: A participant in the inaugural Australian Navy Cadets MC Maritime Skills Camp gets hands-on with a marine diesel engine.
RELATED STORY: Inaugural AMC Maritime Skills Camp (cadet perspective)
What exactly is the AMC Maritime Skills Camp?
It is three days packed full of personal challenge, learning, teamwork, courage, self-discipline, communal harmony and FUN.
The idea behind the Maritime Skills Camp started in June 2019 when Director Australian Navy Cadets Commander Stuart Wheeler, Director of Training Commander Lisa Foley, ANC, Flotcom Kellatie Lieutenant Commander Alistair Barber, ANC, and Kellatie FSO Chief Petty Officer Greg Brimfield made a visit to the AMC to review a demonstration of what the college could provide.
We visited the Beauty Point Seamanship centre and toured the facilities which include a number of working training vessels and a non-seagoing coal carrier.
We can say that after this first part of our visit we were already discussing cadet opportunities.
Moving on to the Bell Bay fire training ground, the AMC staff demonstrated the various live fire scenarios that could be safely conducted by our cadets with some basic training.
We returned to the main campus of the AMC for lunch at Saltz Café and then made our way to the facilities on offer.
These facilities included:
- the “Tow Tank” – a long narrow tank used to test various characteristics of vessel design which is the largest and only commercially operating facility of its type within Australasia.
- the “Model Basin” – a larger pool that can simulate wave motion, harbour configurations, vessel effect on passing or replenishment;
- the “Survival Centre” – a heated indoor pool with all the maritime safety gear you could ever need; and,
- the “Bridge Simulation Centre” – which houses a main bridge simulator, tug simulators, sic independent smaller vessel simulators and 20 networked small vessel simulators.
Let’s just say that this was all very impressive.
A proposal was written following this visit to pilot a programme, based on our requirements to have cadets engage in hands-on activity and not just a tour of available facilities.
Once approved, the AMC were requested to provide some available dates and we progressed with planning the pilot activity.
As I write this, the cadets are completing their final activities at the Bell Bay Live Fire Training Ground.
Group A, is setting off some marine day and night flares while Group B is Fighting a gas fire, moving forward as a fire team towards the flaming gas line to allow their team leader (AMC staff) to isolate the gas.
In a little over two hours’ time I will farewell a fantastic group of 18 cadets who, although they come from three different flotillas and at least 10 different units, have blended as a team from early Monday night.
They have required very little guidance and direction from the four adult members, who have demonstrated excellent leadership, and without them, this activity would not have been successful.
I would like to thank DANC, NCANC (both current and previous), Commander Foley, ANC, the FSO’s from each attending Flotilla, (and acknowledging the last-minute work done by the Kellatie FSO’s due to the changing situation caused by Operation Bushfireire Assist) for the opportunity for not only the cadets to attend this activity, but also the adult members who were able to join in when appropriate to challenge themselves.
I would also like to acknowledge the AMC staff, (including staff from the Saltz Café) who tailored an adult programme to the cadets, ensuring that we not only had an exciting and fun time, but a safe one.
Finally, thank you Lieutenant James Riley, ANC, Kellatie USO, who gave up many hours of his own time liaising with teams from the AMC (which is his primary employer) to help them get things just right.
He also made himself available to assist in vehicle collection, meet cadets on arrival and opened the main bridge simulator as an evening activity in his own time.