Home' Air Force News : May 24th 2012 Contents Feature
May 24, 2012
From the cockpit of an Orion to the confines of
a submarine, this airman came back from the
sea with a new perspective. Andrew Stackpool
and LAC Bill Solomou report.
The other side
SEA CHANGE: SQNLDR Marcus Watson at the
controls of an AP-3C and, inset, sailing out in HMAS
Collins which provided him with a new perspective on
Main photo: Mike McSweeney
THE sub-hunters of 92WG have
developed an international rep-
utation over the years for their
anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
expertise, along with their intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance capa-
Now, one of their number has
found out what it is to be like on the
receiving end of that expertise.
Staff Officer Maritime at Fleet
Headquarters (FHQ) in Sydney,
SQNLDR Marcus Watson, embarked
aboard HMAS Collins for three days
during Exercise Triton Storm 12
between March 12 and 15 as the sub-
marine was being hunted in the rough
waters of the West Australian Exercise
Area (WAXA) by RAN and Royal
New Zealand Navy ships and aircraft
from both countries' air forces.
The exercise was the first major
Navy exercise for the year and com-
prised two weeks of activities off the
east coast, a southerly transit to the
west and the last three weeks in the
WAXA, the climax of the exercise.
SQNLDR Watson said the experi-
ence was completely different from
what he thought it would be like, but it
was one he enjoyed.
"It was during the peak of the
exercise and we had aircraft and ships
looking for the boat," he said.
"I was amazed. It's not like walk-
ing around in a normal building. In
a lot of the passageways you have to
turn sideways to go through.
"I'm six feet tall, so my head
would not fit under most of the pipes
"Every now and then I would hit
my head on a protruding object from
the deckhead [roof]."
He did not feel locked in or claus-
trophobic at any stage but quickly
learnt a lesson about the sleeping
arrangements and their hazards.
He slept in the weapons bay,
among the boat's war load of torpe-
does and Harpoon missiles.
"My rack was underneath a torpedo
and Harpoon," he said.
"On the first night, I lay awake
wondering if they'd fall on me.
"Then, on several occasions I
banged my head on the torpedo if I sat
SQNLDR Watson's job at FHQ
is to organise air support for the fleet
during training periods. From a war-
fighting perspective, he found it help-
ful to see ASW from the submarine's
point of view.
control room and watch ASW from the
other side," he said.
"Whenever the Orion dropped its
sonobuoys, I would rush over to the
screens and look at the signatures that
SQNLDR Watson was impressed
with the crew's motivation.
"I had junior sailors telling me
that they love going to sea and love
doing their job."
Leaving the boat was also an
experience to remember -- he had to
be winched to a helicopter that was
When Collins surfaced to conduct
the transfer, the seas were rough and
waves were breaking over the cas-
ing, making it difficult for the helo to
"It was very windy, so the helicop-
ter was being blown off from [its posi-
tion] on top of the boat," SQNLDR
"Then guys had to get out there [on
deck] with a static discharge wand,
so that when the winch cable came
down to the sub, you don't get a static
SQNLDR Watson and the Collins
CO, CMDR James Harrap, both
went through the Australian Defence
Force Academy together 20 years
"He was a midshipman and I was
an officer cadet, and I always said that
when he made CO of a boat to make
sure I could join him for a sea ride,"
SQNLDR Watson said.
"So it was really good to sit on top
of the fin as we sailed out of the exer-
Follow her journey at
Congratulations to ADCU Member Chloe
Esposito for winning the Bronze Medal in Modern
Pentathlon World Cup #2 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil!
Brought to you by
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donate, buy merchandise or follow her
journey to the London Olympics!
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