Darwin team: the changing face of Navy

Published on SBLT James Tew (author), ABEW Ryan Taylor (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Darwin (F04), Exercise TALISMAN SABRE

(From left) Sub Lieutenant's Teiah McKee and Kylea Jones with Lieutenant Claire McIntosh on the forecaslte of HMAS Darwin. (photo: ABEW RYAN TAYLOR)
(From left) Sub Lieutenant's Teiah McKee and Kylea Jones with Lieutenant Claire McIntosh on the forecaslte of HMAS Darwin.

Not only is HMAS Darwin the first lady of the fleet, the female-led bridge team is a demonstration of the changing face of Navy.

Lieutenant Claire McIntosh, Sub Lieutenant Kylea Jones and Sub Lieutenant Teiah McKee were the three qualified Officers of the Watch on board the frigate whilst she sailed in support of Exercise TALISMAN SABRE. 

Sub Lieutenants McKee and Jones share the distinction of being the final two Maritime Warfare Officers to complete their Officer of the Watch qualifications onboard Darwin before the guided missile frigate decommissions later this year.

Darwin’s Commanding Officer Commander Phil Henry said that the bridge team was a perfect example of how much the Australian Navy has evolved in recent decades.

“When Darwin commissioned in 1984, females didn’t serve at sea,” Commander Henry said.

“It is noteworthy that after 33 years of service to the Royal Australian Navy she will decommission with three females in the bridge team.”

Commissioned in 1984 after completing construction in Seattle, USA, Darwin was the fourth of six Adelaide class guided missile frigates that formed the backbone of the Australian Navy’s surface fleet for almost four decades.

Lieutenant McIntosh said that the opportunity to be part of Darwin’s final crew was unique.

“It has been a really amazing experience being a part of Darwin in her final year of service,” she said.

“To be in a position to mentor Sub Lieutenants Jones and McKee while they each worked towards qualifying has made that doubly rewarding.

“We work well as a team and I think that is reflective of the broader culture in Darwin," Lieutenant McIntosh said. 

Darwin will decommission at the end of 2017 after completing visits and engagements in Australian and regional ports.