- A.N. Other
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2017 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
By Captain Mal Ralston, RAN
In 1903, the Commonwealth Naval Board was constituted under the Defence Act. One of its first responsibilities was to commence home-based naval training of young Australian sailors.
In 1911, the Commonwealth Naval Force became the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Naval Board made the decision that junior officers would be educated and trained in a purpose-built Royal Australian Naval College rather than sent to the United Kingdom. At the time, this was a controversial decision but was undoubtedly the right one for the nation and the Navy. Since 1913, the RAN has been training both its officers and sailors to maintain and operate its ships and provide the capability required to meet the Navy’s Mission: To fight and win at sea.
Given that the RAN was closely aligned to the Royal Navy (RN) and that its ships and their equipment were also of British origin, it is not surprising that, for the first half of its existence, much of the training was either delivered by or based in the RN. This started to change as the RAN began to grow in self-sufficiency and as non-British designed ships were purchased or built at home. The modern RAN Training System has evolved to a point where it is now intrinsically linked to wider Defence and National Training Systems and can be considered world class in its ability to train the men and women of Australia who volunteer to serve their nation.
A Systems Approach
To understand how Navy training evolved, it is helpful to look at significant events in years gone by that contributed to its evolution. Apart from the obvious challenges that occur as a result of major conflicts it was the significant technological development in the late 1960s and early 1970s that saw the formalisation and introduction of the RAN Training System. This systematic and structured approach to training was needed to ensure that sailors and officers were provided with the training necessary to operate and maintain new technologically advanced ships, aircraft and systems that were being introduced into service.
By the 1990s substantial reform was taking place nationally in the area of Vocational Education and Training with the implementation of Australia’s National Training System. Given that the Navy’s training system was closely aligned to the concepts of the national system it was well placed to be a significant contributor and early adopter of the new scheme. This meant that the RAN was now part of a much larger system that brought with it significant benefits, such as nationally recognised qualifications that were transferable across industry and national standards for training and assessment.
By the mid-2000s, the National Training System was considered an integral part of the way Navy developed and delivered training, however there remained duplication of effort across Defence in the area of training design, development and delivery. The introduction of the Defence Training Model (DTM) in the later part of the 2000s delivered a single model to be used by all three services and the wider Defence organisation. Its introduction provided a common training language that was able to be used across Defence and within the commercial organisations that support Defence.
Whilst the DTM served the ADF well, its application to the wider Defence Organisation had its limitations. As a result, an evolution and an update of the DTM were necessary and resulted in the Systems Approach to Defence Learning (SADL), developed by the Defence Learning Branch (DLB). The SADL uses the ADDIE approach with Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate phases, processes and products.
Although there have been many changes to the RAN Training System since its introduction in the early 1970s, the systems approach to training development and delivery has remained fundamentally unchanged. It continues to be the methodology used by the Navy to train and assess its sailors and officers for their roles now and, in all likelihood, well into the future.
Navy Training Today
In the 1970s through to the late 1990s training was the purview of a single Navy Training Command. With the establishment of Force Element Groups in 1999, the Navy training organisation also restructured and introduced individual lead authorities along with Navy’s functional lines of maritime warfare, logistics, initial training leadership and management, aviation, and submarines. The lead authorities later became the Training Authorities (TA), maintaining the link to those functional lines. The TAs’ role has remained relatively unchanged since their introduction and they continue to be responsible for the development, delivery and quality of individual training within their area of expertise.
The establishment of Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) in 2004 resulted in the majority of Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations being controlled by a joint operations staff at HQJOC. This enabled Navy to shift its focus to ‘Raise, Train and Sustain’ in support of the new Joint Operations Command organisation. This focus, and the introduction of New Generation Navy (NGN), resulted in major changes to the Navy organisation and the establishment of two new commands – Navy Strategic Command and Fleet Command. Importantly, this restructure led to Navy’s training organisation becoming a Force Element of Fleet Command – Training Force. This was a first for Navy and established a through-life, or ‘cradle to grave’, approach to training.
New Generation Navy and Fleet Operating Concept
The introduction of NGN marked a fundamental change to the way Navy does business; to better serve the needs of personnel so they could grow and sustain the Navy of the future. This was a large cultural shift, and still extant today, with the training of Navy personnel – collectively and individually – being a cornerstone of current and future capability. A fundamental subset of NGN was the Fleet Operating Concept (FOC). The FOC set about reviewing, planning and conducting the fleet’s activities in order to maximise training opportunities and achieve directed levels of preparedness in an enduring and cost conscious manner.
The FOC fortified the link between individual and team – or collective – training. This enabled the fleet to program assets, whether ashore or at sea, in order to maximise their effective and efficient use for training. Under the auspices of the FOC, fleet exercises were formally recognised as collective training for individual units and for the fleet overall. Individual training that required formal at-sea training was no longer squeezed in as an afterthought, but was planned for and programmed with all other strategic and national priorities. The FOC provided the means for organising and operating the fleet to maximise training opportunities, and it held the, Fleet Forward principles – People, Platforms, Procedures and Passion – that provided guidance to maximise training benefits. These four principles were the fundamental building blocks to ensure that platforms were maintained to the highest level, tactics were highly effective and tailored for the situation, and personnel were well trained, experienced and motivated. Furthermore, it recognised that to succeed, Navy people must be passionate about what they do.
Plan Pelorus and Navy Training Force Plan 2018
In April 2015, the RAN saw the launch of the Chief of Navy’s Plan Pelorus—Navy Strategy 2018. At the strategic level, Navy’s journey to 2018 will be executed and underpinned via the Navy Campaign Plan, with four objectives—Warfighting, Capability, Workforce and Reputation and Reform. Navy training is a key enabler in the achievement of these four objectives. Under the leadership of Commodore Training (COMTRAIN), today’s Training Force is responsible for the delivery of all individual training and unit-level collective training. Training Force provides a motivating learning environment that is innovative and trains personnel to be skilled, competent and professional to deliver Navy’s warfighting effects. To do this, the Navy Training Force Plan 2018 and accompanying Battle Plan were developed to provide direction.
The Navy Training Force Plan 2018 focuses on the Training areas of: Delivery, Professional Development, Pipeline Efficiency and Governance as well as identifying the Training Force contribution to each of the Plan Pelorus objectives. Training Delivery encourages exploitation of existing training methodologies alongside the exploration of new and innovative technology. Professional Development enables all Training Force staff to be provided with opportunities to experience and discover new training and learning techniques to improve the learning experiences of our trainees. Training Pipeline Efficiency optimises training throughput via planning, resource management and continuous review. Lastly, Training Governance manages the transition to SADL. This transition ensures governance requirements can be audited and assessed as well as enabling a common understanding of the business and the standards to be maintained. These key areas support Training Force’s overall Mission to ‘Train to fight and win at sea’.
Training the future Navy is always a challenge. With the introduction of sophisticated and technically advanced platforms and systems over the next decade, Navy must continue to focus on contemporary training methodologies and seek innovative ways to meet the ever increasing training demands that come with new capability. The Guided Missile Destroyer, known as DDG, will see the introduction of the next generation of war fighting systems, and the two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHDs) or Amphibious Assault Ships bring with them new propulsion systems and an amphibious capability that the Navy has not seen in its history.
One element of Navy’s preparations to meet this challenge is through the increased use of simulation and emulation. Simulation systems are providing new ways for Navy personnel to learn and practice their core tasks safely and cost effectively. Using the same technology that has enabled players to move through virtual worlds in a multitude of complex and imaginative games, 3D graphical models of ships are being built that allow personnel to move around the vessel in a virtual environment. Through innovative training methods, Navy is enabling personnel to assimilate into their new ships by learning where they will be sleeping, eating and working, learning vital escape routes and becoming aware of emergency equipment locations, all before physically joining the ship.
Into the future, existing simulators will be linked, enabling interaction across Australia and the world in a synthetic environment. Using new technology, advanced international exercises will be conducted without the cost of putting aircraft in the sky and ships to sea. Furthermore, extremely complex scenarios and evolutions will be conducted with almost no risk to personnel and equipment. Technology is providing the opportunity to enhance skills, extend the lifespan of ships, submarines and aircraft, and keep Navy people safe.
Social technologies, smart phone ‘apps’ and other emerging technologies are also being explored as opportunities to provide access to a wide range of information in a convenient, secure, real-time and user-friendly environment. These technologies have further potential to keep the Navy of the future in touch with families, friends, and their Navy colleagues across the country and whilst deployed.
Today’s Navy is as dedicated to meeting its obligations to the Australian Government and the people it serves as it has been throughout a turbulent century of World Wars, Cold War, maritime patrols and interdiction operations. Despite the danger inherent, resilience and a ‘can-do’ attitude have been the hallmarks of Navy people; in large part due to the education and training instilled into each new recruit through their career development. Knowledge, skills and dedication are handed on in trust from one generation to the next. Training has evolved to meet the intellectual and technological demands of the day, and Navy continues to innovate and adopt best practice training systems and techniques to train its people and achieve the mission. New Generation Navy, the Fleet Operating Concept, Plan Pelorus and the Navy Training Force Plan 2018 as well as embracing technology have engendered a cultural shift in the importance of training. Training, be it collective or individual, is the foundation of capability and through it Navy is able to meet its obligations effectively and efficiently and, when called upon, is able to fight and win at sea.