No gaps in gap year

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author and photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, HMAS Cerberus, HMAS Kuttabul, HMAS Cairns, HMAS Coonawarra, HMAS Canberra (L02), Defence Force Recruiting

Navy Gap Year participant Seaman Emily Wood onboard HMAS Canberra for the sea phase of the 12 month gap year program. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Navy Gap Year participant Seaman Emily Wood onboard HMAS Canberra for the sea phase of the 12 month gap year program.

Only six months after joining the Navy, Seaman Emily Wood has found herself on the ship bearing the name of her home town. After joining the Navy Gap Year program from the national capital in January she was recently given the opportunity to complete three weeks at sea onboard HMAS Canberra.

The program provides young Australians with the opportunity to experience Navy training and lifestyle without any obligation to serve beyond the 12 month familiarisation.

Joining the ship in Townsville with 21 other participants, Seaman Wood sailed south to Melbourne with the ship.

“Being at sea has been a really good experience,” Seaman Wood said.

“I thought I would get sea sick but this ship is so big it doesn’t even feel like it’s moving.”

Seaman Wood said she took the Gap Year option as she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in the Navy.

“I think the try before you buy experience was very appealing,” she said.

“I wanted to join the Defence Force because when I was High School Captain at Queanbeyan High, I went to leadership breakfasts and Women in Navy functions and I really enjoyed the team spirit, morale and camaraderie.

“I was also interested in the other benefits Defence offered like free medical and subsidised housing.”

Gap Year participants complete three months at Recruit School, in Victoria, three weeks of seamanship training and then do a two week tour of the Navy around Australia.

“I’ve have been able to go everywhere, CerberusStirling, Sydney, Cairns and Darwin,” Seaman Wood said.

“I never thought I would get to go to Darwin so being posted up there has been really good.”

“The highlight of being onboard Canberra was watching the 25mm Mini Typhoon shoot. The feeling I got as it fired, I could feel it through my whole body. As a civilian I would never have got to see that and it made me realise this was something I could really see myself doing.”

Seaman Wood is sure she will join as a permanent Navy member but is still a little unsure in which category.

“I thought I had my mind made up to be a Medic but now that I’ve been to sea I think maybe I should be an Electronics Technician or a Marine Technician,” she said.

Seaman Wood said the Gap Year program has been a great experience.

“Meeting new people has really been a highlight,” she said.

“Making friends with people I would never have met otherwise has been amazing.

When Canberra returns to Sydney, Seaman Wood and her colleagues will post to various bases across the country where they will get to experience a little more of what the Navy has to offer.