Personnel from the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Leeuwin-class hydrographic survey ship HMAS Melville has conducted mine-laying mission off the coast of Townsville, Queensland.

The crew used a crane to lay two inert minefields. This is the first time that the personnel have been exposed to such a mission.

Carried out as part of exercise Talisman Sabre (TS21), the activity provided them with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of mine-laying operations.

The minefields laying work involved craning eight inert or ‘dummy’ mines of various shapes, sizes and weights.

Military survey and geospatial intelligence gathering operations form the core capability of HMAS Melville.

According to RAN Lieutenant Commander Adrian Eddy, laying mines require innovation and adaptability from the crew.

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Eddy said: “Leeuwin-class hydrographic ships have never conducted mine-laying before, so effectively executing this tasking moves us closer to the development of underwater mastery.”

The crew successfully laid all eight mine shapes in two days as the weather conditions were favourable for laying.

According to a statement released by Australian Department of Defence, units were then tasked with locating and disposing of the inert sea mines.

The units worked in open waters and at a nearby fishing area to clear the minefield to allow hassle-free passage of the allied task group.

The Talisman Sabre exercise will run until 31 July.

It is designed to enhance the interoperability between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the US Armed Forces.

More than 17,000 troops are taking part in the multi-domain exercise.