Huon-class minehunter coastal HMAS Gascoyne started its latest deployment with a bang, conducting a live mine disposal activity off the coast of northern NSW. 

The live firing came just days into a deployment during which the ship will circumnavigate Australia to conduct vital route surveys of Australia’s most important and strategic waterways. 

Minehunter coastals regularly conduct simulated mine disposal firings to prove their skills and drills to neutralise maritime mine threats.

Commanding Officer Gascoyne Lieutenant Commander Geoff Crane said the live firing provided essential training to the ship’s company as well as providing a positive start to the lengthy deployment. 

“For many of the younger sailors, it was their first chance to witness a live firing,” Lieutenant Commander Crane said.  

“The crew certainly felt the shockwave pass through the ship from only a small detonation, so imagine a 1000kg mine being disposed of.” 

Navy’s four minehunter coastals are purpose-built and have no ribs, frames or stiffening points in the hull in order to better absorb shock from underwater explosions. 

With a world-class sonar and a very low magnetic and acoustic signature, Huon-class ships and their crews are well prepared to counter sea mine threats. 

For Gascoyne Combat System Operator-Mine Warfare Leading Seaman Dale Timbs, the exercise was the first time he had controlled the ship’s remotely operated Double Eagle mine disposal vehicle during a live firing. 

“I’ve controlled many vehicle runs previously in training scenarios but being able to put this into practice during a live mine disposal firing has been a great experience,” Leading Seaman Timbs said. 

As well as surveying strategic and important waterways during the current deployment, next month in Western Australia, Gascoyne will participate in Exercise Dugong 21, a biennial international mine countermeasures exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Navy.