The Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Support Unit has been called in to provide maintenance support to British frigate HMS Sutherland, currently on deployment in the Pacific, following weather-related damage to its galley.
Sutherland’s galley deck was damaged during heavy weather which caused it to flex leading to superficial damage which rendered the area unsafe for food preparation. With five months left in the deployment, and only a couple of days alongside Sydney’s Garden Island naval base, the issue posed a real threat to the ship’s operating capability and ability to complete the deployment.
Logistics Officer HMS Sutherland, Lieutenant Commander David Bell said that the damage posed a significant challenge as “the galley deck was no longer satisfactory in a food preparation area and would have degraded further throughout the deployment”.
“The situation had given me a few restless nights,” Lieutenant Commander Bell said.
The Royal Australian Navy was quick to step in and help out however, sending three sailors from the Fleet Support Unit South East to concrete, tile and grout the damaged area in record time, bringing the galley back to an operational condition in less than 48 hours.
Leading the operation for the Australians, Lieutenant Commander Mark McGuinness (RAN) said his unit was happy to provide assistance. “Initially it was thought that a temporary repair could be carried out that would get Sutherland home. However, noting that five months of the deployment remained, this plan was quickly altered to constitute a comprehensive repair.”
Describing the opportunity to work as part of the repair team on the British warship, Petty Officer Marine Technician Stewart Martin (RAN) said that “being able to offer assistance to a close ally so that she can sail in the proper material state – especially when it’s related to food – is a good feeling.”