A 20-foot shipping container on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, helps the Australian Navy run one of the world’s few remaining shore-to-sea live firing training sites.
Since 1959, West Head Gunnery Range which occupies an area of 16 hectares has provided the Royal Australian Navy with
live gunnery training for close range and medium calibre shipborne weapon systems, navigation radar and miscellaneous communications and support equipment.
One of the many systems used for safety during live firings and also training is the Electro-Optical Tracking System.
Also fitted to most major fleet units, the system is highly accurate multi-sensor tracking system used to track and locate targets in aerial warfare.
The harsh weather conditions at West Head take their toll on even the hardiest of surfaces and recently, the home of the system needed a bit of TLC.
The staff from Fleet Support Unit-Sydney travelled to West Head and removed the internal and external components of the container with assistance from West Head Gunnery Range personnel and then shipped the container to Sydney.
Upon removal of the internal bulkhead coverings, the true extent of the corrosion was evident, making refurbishment of the container not possible.
Undaunted, Fleet Support Unit in conjunction with the FFG Sustainment Program Office, purchased a second-hand container and set about re-constructing the Electro-Optical Tracking System container.
The activity involved numerous trades and skill sets from across the various departments working collaboratively.
FFG Sustainment Program Office Combat Systems Manager Commander Paul Denneny said the finished product far exceeded expectations.
“The work conducted was at such a high standard, it was obvious that pride in workmanship was evident in the tradesmen assigned to the task,” he said.
“The container has now been delivered back to West Head Gunnery Range, and Fleet Support Unit personnel have reinstalled it and assisted in setting it to work.
“The result is a restored training capability in a condition that far exceeded expectations and with over $100,000 in savings.”
Fleet Support Unit-South East Regional Manager, Lieutenant Commander Mark McGuiness was proud of his team’s work and commitment to the task.
“This job has been in progress since about March this year, and I couldn't be prouder of the way the respective sections that worked jointly to achieve this excellent outcome,” Lieutenant Commander McGuiness said.
The officer in Charge of the West Head Gunnery Range, Lieutenant Commander Peter Arnold said the quality of workmanship was excellent.
“This will provide a great asset for the few remaining years of guided missile frigate training,” he said.
“After a 10-month hiatus, we will recommence maintainer and operator training in November.” (LEUT Dave Devlin (author)