When 22 year old Elly Carter left Canberra’s Hawker College in 2009 she tried bar work and then time as a legal secretary, but she wanted do to something ‘out of the norm’, while travelling and saving money.
For many young women, achieving all three of those criteria might seem like a pipe dream, but this is exactly what Elly will be doing this Christmas, as part of the crew of the Australian warship HMAS Parramatta.
Parramatta will spend Christmas at sea, carrying out border protection operations across Australia’s northern maritime border as part of Operation RESOLUTE.
Elly Carter is now a Communications and Information Systems (CIS) sailor in the Royal Australian Navy who holds the rank of Able Seaman. She has already earned an Operational Service for three previous deployments on Operation RESOLUTE.
AB Carter’s job involves working on anything from maintaining the ship’s email servers to keep the crew in touch with loved ones to managing the flow of information between Customs, the RAAF, Headquarters Northern Command and other naval vessels at sea. She plays a crucial role in communicating information pertaining to security and safety of life at sea incidents (SOLAS). Her role is critical to the ship’s operations and requires specialist training. She also gets involved in other activities around the ship.
Like many sailors deployed at sea, AB Carter has picked up a number of skills that have allowed her to participate in a range of auxiliary duties, including being a member of a boarding party. She says this variety and the career progression opportunities are the key attractions of the job.
But the job does involve being away from home and while AB Carter expects that the ship’s cooks will put on a special meal on 25 December, she wont be with her family around the tree, opening presents, this Christmas. She says she will make up for her absence when she gets home.
“I am looking forward to seeing my family, having a belated Christmas dinner and going for a run on land,” Able Seaman Carter said.
When asked if she had any messages that she would like to send home, Elly provided one that demonstrates the flair for brevity that a CIS sometimes requires when communicating.
“To my Mum and Dad, Ben, Lew and Jas: Merry Christmas and I miss you lots,” she said.