Close-combat skills honed within ship

Peering through the scope of his F88 rifle, Leading Seaman William Lete and his team in HMAS Brisbane entered a compartment to clear the space of potential threats.

CAPTION: Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jade Waipara, left, and Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate William Lete conduct quick-response force training on board HMAS Brisbane during Exercise Talisman Sabre. Story and photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.

This was part of the training for the quick-response force and boarding party, duties most commonly undertaken by boatswains mates who specialise in weapons handling.

Leading Seaman Lete and his team are on Exercise Talisman Sabre 21 (TS21), the largest bilateral exercise between Australia and the United States hosted every two years off the coast of Queensland.

Noting that TS21 is a warfighting exercise, personnel in Brisbane wanted to prepare for all situations that may arise at sea.

As part of their training, Brisbane’s boatswains mates conducted high-intensity serials in darkness, including compartment entries, room clearances and close-combat behaviours using the F88, 870P shotgun and Browning Mark II pistol.

Leading Seaman Lete said the serials prepared his team to conduct boarding operations in potential high-risk environments and to help safeguard the ship in domestic and foreign ports.

“I wanted to use the training I received from my past experiences on different ships to broaden the skills of the boatswains mates in Brisbane,” Leading Seaman Lete said.

“Not only does it increase the ship’s internal security capability, but I also hope they can pass on the skills to others as they progress through their careers.”

Seaman Melita Tennant was involved in the training and said the experience was invaluable.

“This being my first sea posting and first exercise since joining the Navy in 2020, I was thrilled to get involved in the maritime close-combat scenarios that were presented to us,” she said.

“I’m eager to further my skills in the future.”

In addition to being experts in the use of small arms, boatswains mates are also specialists in other seamanship roles such as rope work, maintaining survival equipment, handling small boats and crewing amphibious landing craft.






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