2RAR troops embark in HMAS Canberra for readiness evaluation
The ADF has not had this level of amphibious capability before and many are excited to put the ship through her paces.
2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) soldiers embarked the ship in Townsville in June and wasted no time familiarising themselves with the vessel.
Private (Pte) Colin Luck, of Bravo Coy, said he was impressed with the ship, not only with the size but also with her capabilities.
“The force integration the Navy is now capable of is great,” Pte Luck said.
“Having a battle group with 2RAR and all the attachments on board is exciting.”
He said the sailors were very helpful in giving the soldiers directions around the ship when they were looking a little lost and the hospitality aboard Canberra was great.
The troops will go through a number of training serials and evolutions while they are on board, starting with learning the ship’s routine such as emergency and leaving ship stations.
Pte Luck said getting used to the Navy jargon was a little tricky, but the troops had been well briefed and knew where they had to be.
“We all managed to get to the right places at the right time and be accounted for so it all went well,” he said.
Canberra’s Amphibious Operations Officer Major (Maj) Mathew Singers said the initial embarkation of the 26 vehicles and 156 troops went smoothly.
“In regard to vehicles, we have everything from G-Wagons to ASLAVs on board,” Maj Singers said.
“The troops include engineers, infantry, artillery, drivers, clerks, signallers and two explosive detection dogs.”
The ship will exercise assault stations where the troops and ship’s company will practise moving personnel through the troop assembly area on the light cargo deck up to the flight deck and also down to the well dock.
Maj Singers said after the initial practise the troops would move through the process in full combat load, collecting the equipment they would take ashore and rehearsing loading into helicopters and landing craft.
He said he was excited to get to this point and the process would test the ship’s standard operating procedures for both tactical and non-tactical deployment of troops from the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD).
“After being with this project for the last 18 months, it’s good to finally find out how the amphibious element fits in the LHD,” he said.
“We are filling the gaps in our knowledge by putting into practise what we had previously only seen on paper.
“We are understanding and clarifying issues we had only seen from a theoretical perspective and we can now adjust the procedures to eliminate those problems.”
Later this year Canberra will return to the north-east coast to begin a series of exercises, again embarking 2RAR.
“This first exercise has focused on unit readiness and making sure the ship can deploy amphibious forces in what would generally benign environment,” Maj Singers said.
“In the second half of the year, these exercises will progressively work the ship and 2RAR up to be able to deploy amphibious forces by sea and air in a tactical, high-threat environment.”