With thanks from HMAS Darwin.

Written by AHQ

27 March 2014

I have a bit of a treat for you tonight.  I usually make it a policy not to ask for anything from the contacts I make over time as I figure that they have enough to do whilst on deployment without trying to do things for me.  Also, I don’t want people to feel they have to say “yes” because they “owe” us.  That is not the way that AHQ works.  However I made an exception with HMAS Darwin as I felt more comfortable, having actually met and chatted to the Captain before they sailed.  

I asked if they could send me some photos for the blog of life at sea.  Luckily for us they have a photographer on board and she was given the task, one that she seems to have willingly taken on (she is a recipient by the way).  

The photos arrived and were great but I needed someone to tell me what was going on in most of them as photos alone are not so good without the explanations.  Thankfully I have some other contacts who were well placed to pass on some information – and I might add, savvy enough to know what to share and what not to share…..always an important consideration. 

So sit back and enjoy a little look at life at sea on HMAS Darwin.

This is the Bridge during a Damage Control Exercise. Also known as DCEX, this is a training serial practised by the whole ship to Exercise responses to a fire, battle damage or other major incident onboard. The two officers you can see are the Officer of the Watch (OOW) and his Assistant Officer of the Watch. The OOW (two Stripes) is completing a checklist of responses to the emergency while his assistant is conning the ship (giving steering instructions to the helmsmen, the Able Seamen seated to the right in front of the helm). They are all wearing anti-flash, a fire retardant covering, to protect them in the event of fire. The AOOW is looking up at the gyro repeat (gyroscopic stabilised compass), which indicates the ships heading.

These two Communication Information System sailor’s (CIS) are hoisting flags up the mast as a means of communication with another ship. Each of these flags has a meaning or letter that read together allow ships to pass information between them.  Despite radios and such, flags are still an effective means of passing messages and indicating what the ship is doing.

Recovering the boat after a man overboard exercise. The three guys would be the boat coxn, his bowman and a SMET (Ships Medical Emergency Team) and “Oscar” the bright orange dummy. Oscar is so named because of the flag hoisted by a ship which is the letter O which indicates that you have a man overboard.  The seat-boat or RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat) is launched and recovered from the ship using a crane or hoist. The RHIB crew attach the crane to the boats lifting strops before climbing a ladder back onto the ship.

These sailors are lowering the flagstaff so that it can be secured for sea. When the ship is at anchor or alongside the two poles, the jackstaff (located in the bow (front)) and the flagstaff (located in the stern (back)) are raised and used to hoist the ANF, (Australian National Flag) and the AWE (Australian White Ensign). When the ship sailed these are lowered and stored so that they are not damaged.

The ship’s cooks in the Galley or happy Cheffo’s.  Looks like this was some of the goodies cooked up for Australia Day. 

Moral can go up or down based on the quality of the food served. Doesn’t look like the ship is doing too badly in that regard.

These sailors are heaving in on a hawser while the ship comes alongside. The line has been passed ashore and attached to a bollard on wharf and is now being tightened by hand. These lines hold the ship to the wharf.   Sailing or berthing somewhere important, hence the whites uniforms.  We used to have to put whites on nearly all the time when sailing or berthing but with the advent of DPNU’s (the grey camouflage uniform) its not as common as it was so this would be a non operational visit, or had the requirement to look pretty. If it was an operational visit then they would be in DPNU’s.

Note the large 04 – it is also painted on the side of the ship…..a good detail to add to any quilt  going to an HMAS Darwin recipient…..

The ship’s crew are conducting their daily physical training (PT) on the ships flight deck. PT can be organised and run by the ships PTI (Physical Training Instructor) or individually managed by the crew. PT is conducted every day.    The Flight deck is one of only 2 places where there is somewhere flat to go for a run. Looks like there quite a fitness driven crew.
Photo 8
This is an image of Combat System Operators (CSO) conducting their daily duties in the Operations Room. This is the brains of the ship.

T9. Damage Control training. The guys are in intermediate rig which is DPNU, Anti Flash (The white hoods and gloves) and  breathing gear called OCCABA (Open Circuit, Compressed Air Breathing Apparatus) The guy to their right would be the Damage Control Instructor who would be telling the other two guys what they were seeing with regards to the fire.These two sailors are conducting an entry into a smoke filled compartment under the watchful gaze of  (DCI) during a DCEX. The smoke is generated to add realism to the training.
Flight Deck Marshalling during some winching training. The rod the two guys standing under the aircraft is an anti static rod to ensure the aircraft is earthed prior to the person being winched touching down and being zapped.  This form of transfer is practiced so that the helicopter crew can recover people who need help from vessels too small for the helicopter to land on.

These Marine Technical (MT) sailors are conducting maintenance on the ships Gas Turbine. This is the ships engine and is the same engine found on planes.

The RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat) in operation.

The ship is conducting Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with a supply ship. All the fuel, food, and other supplies (including mail) the ship needs are transferred from the supply ship during this evolution. The helicopter that can be seen above the supply ship will be lifting and transferring boxes of stores between the ships.

At sea on a typically calm day in that part of the world.

This amazing image is of the phosphorescence disturbed by the ships wake.   It is called Bioluminescence. This is heatless light generated chemically by small marine plants and animals when they are disturbed.  These are little membranes that not very much is known about, but inside the clear membrane there are two cells, one positively charged, the other is negatively charged, when the ship disturbs them they rub against each other causing a spark and hence the blue light in the water. 
The ships writers with some of the much appreciated mail from home. 
It will be a very happy day onboard.

More PT, this time on forecastle. 
All the female members of the ship’s company raising awareness for the breast cancer foundation 

and with an appropriately decorated ships helicopter.

and finally

One of Jenny and Gale’s happy recipients with her quilt (and friend).  

Thanks so much for the photos Darwin and for the explanations (you know who you are).
I hope you all enjoyed the post and found it interesting.  

Just before we go – these ladies have sent off quilts and laundry bags this week.  If you are not on the list and should be can you please let me know.

Jenny and Gale
Julie Ann
Kiwi Karen
Louise T
Pauline and Elaine
Rita M
Stephanie D
Sue N
Sue G

Till next time…………….keep spreading the word and happy stitching! JMxx

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  1. Unknown

    Great post JM, very well written 😉


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