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Technology to enhance the skill of Aussie minehunter operations

The combination of next-generation technology and skills is helping a Royal Australian Navy task group consisting of the Sydney-based minehunters, HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne, as they participate in the Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX 19) off the coast of the Republic of Korea.

Following a brief respite in Busan, South Korea, both the vessels, along with a Task Group Command team, have joined in MIWEX 19 to test and demonstrate their mine warfare skills in a new environment.

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A key piece of technology utilised in the Mine Warfare task is the Double Eagle MkII mine disposal vehicle (MDV), with each of the RAN minehunters deployed with two of these vehicles.

These tethered submersibles are capable of acquiring suspect bottom objects, verifying those objects and, if required, disposing of those objects confirmed to be underwater mines.

Gascoyne deployed her MDVs on numerous occasions during the exercise to verify mine-like objects and then prosecute mines during the exercise.

Further enhancing each vessel’s mine warfare capability are the Mine Clearance Divers embarked as part of the crew who also provide positive identification and neutralisation of mines.

Diamantina’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Justin Raward, said that the ship’s divers are braving the cool waters off Namhae, Republic of Korea, to locate and identify underwater mines and obstacles.

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LEUT Raward explained, “Our success here is evidence of our quality training and preparation for this exercise. This is a terrific opportunity to demonstrate our skills to our regional partners and share knowledge in the Mine Warfare arena.”

The Royal Australian Navy’s Huon Class minehunter coastal vessels are fitted with a pair of electrically powered Saab Double Eagle MkII ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) for mine disposal.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Diamantina, Lieutenant Commander Darren McDevitt, has highlighted the significance of the RAN unit’s involvement in the exercise.

“The Republic of Korea Navy units out here with us know that we are here to share skills and experience in Mine Warfare operations. It is a privilege to join our regional partners here, and I am proud of the capabilities we have on show,” LTCMDR McDevitt said. 

Diamantina, Gascoyne and the Task Group Command team are taking part in the Multinational Mine Countermeasure Symposium and MIWEX 19 in Korea as part of a four-month North East Asian Deployment.

The Double Eagle is equipped with a searchlight, closed-circuit low-light television camera and an onboard close-range identification sonar. Commands are relayed via a fibre optic link inside the vehicle’s 1,000 metre tether, which also relays sensor images for display on the ship’s multifunction console in the operations room.

Each Double Eagle ROV is fitted with either a disposal charge slung beneath or an explosive or mechanical cutter designed to sever the wire rope or chain holding moored mines.

Technology to enhance the skill of Aussie minehunter operations
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