Making a splash on her very first deployment

This article has photo gallery Published on LS Lee-Anne Mack (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): Honolulu, Hawaii

Topic(s): Exercise RIMPAC, HMAS Ballarat (F155)

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Erin Riley stands on watch in Anzac class frigate HMAS Ballarat during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.  (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Erin Riley stands on watch in Anzac class frigate HMAS Ballarat during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.

Camden's Erin Riley is living her childhood dream on Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Ballarat in Hawaii as one of 25,000 personnel taking part in Exercise Rim of the Pacific RIMPAC 2016, the world’s largest maritime exercise.

Erin traded in her Broughton Anglican College school uniform for one of a Royal Australian Navy Boatswains Mate to serve her country on the high seas.

Erin’s role as a seamanship and close range weapons specialist is key to Australian Anzac Class Frigate HMAS Ballarat being able to coordinate its activities at sea with ships from 26 other countries involved in RIMPAC 16.

Able Seaman Boatswain Mate Riley is revelling in her first overseas deployment which has included the ship firing its Harpoon anti-ship missile during a test combined with crossing the equator for the first time.

“This is a massive exercise and one that everybody in the Navy is pretty keen to go away on given the activities, exercises and of course being able to visit Hawaii,” she said.

“There are many memorable moments for me from this deployment, and I know this is just the beginning."

“Diving from the side of the ship and swimming at the point near where the equator meets the International Date Line was something special, it is one of those things that not many people can say they have done.”

On 14 July, Erin was among the crew of Ballarat that successfully fired a Harpoon all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile, during a RIMPAC SINKEX against the decommissioned USS Thatch, 55 nautical miles north of Kauai.

“Being a part of RIMPAC and the ship pulling together for a successful firing, it felt really good, we did our job.”

RIMPAC seeks to enhance interoperability between Pacific Rim armed forces, as a means of promoting stability in the region and to foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

Ballarat is due to head home later in the year and Erin among many can’t wait to see family and friend and tell them about the experiences of Hawaii, the adventures at sea and how being part of the world’s biggest war games played out.