Nine officers from HMAS Sirius have attended a three-day course at Port Ash Ship Handling Training and Research Centre recently to improve their mariner skills.
The centre, which is two hours north of Sydney, uses model ships on a man-made lake to teach ship control at low speeds in open, confined and shallow waters, with and without tug assistance.
The manned model ships behave just like full-size ships, experiencing squat, interaction, and shallow water and bank effects in the same manner.
Planned manoeuvring, natural wind and artificially generated currents allow students to experience all the effects of ship handling in a controlled and safe environment.
Officer-of-the-watch Lieutenant Sarah Kaese said the centre had a scale model version of Sirius, one of the Royal Australian Navy’s two replenishment vessels.
She said once aboard it was immediately evident how much they would gain.
“Knowing how ships interact when in close quarters is particularly important for Sirius,” she said.
“We are often in situations where we must come alongside another vessel while underway to conduct a replenishment at sea and it is essential we take into account the pressure and suctions zones as well as the key interactions that occur,” Lieutenant Kaese said.
Port Ash is a commercially run facility that employs experienced marine pilots as teachers.
The centre was “incredibly beneficial” for the Sirius bridge command team, according to Commanding Officer Commander Mike Oborn.
"As Sirius welcomed two new Officers of the Watch, the course was both a refresher and an introduction to ship handling," he said.
"An unusual experience for junior officers-of-the-watch, Port Ash is a must for my watch-keepers,” Commander Oborn said.
"These three days at Port Ash gave
us the opportunity to sit down and talk through how Sirius would handle at sea and then do it for real in the models.
"The experience was a great start to what is shaping up to be an amazing year.”
The Royal Australian Navy's afloat support capability is provided by the replenishment ships Sirius and Success.