Technical mastery skills showcased

This article has photo gallery Published on PORO Ann-Maree Anderson (author and photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cerberus

Topic(s): HMAS Cerberus

The 2017 Engineering Challenge winners from 816 Squadron with Head of Navy Engineering Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence. (photo:
The 2017 Engineering Challenge winners from 816 Squadron with Head of Navy Engineering Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence.

The annual Navy Engineering Challenge finals were recently held at HMAS Cerberus, as part of Engineering Training Week.

This annual competition sees Navy technical sailors showcasing their technical skills in front of senior members of the Navy engineering community and those embarking on their careers at the technical training faculty.

Technicians from the marine, electrical and aviation workgroups competed in regional competitions throughout the year to earn their place to compete against fellow technicians in the finals.

The marine and aviation challenges involved teams of five and the electronics challenge consisted of teams of four. 

Command Warrant Officer Naval Engineering, Warrant Officer Chris Rowley said the trade skills on show throughout the competition were outstanding.

“The setting for this competition is similar to the conditions and levels of commitment required to rectify defects at sea,” Warrant Officer Rowley said. 

“It was pleasing to see all the teams, fight through the challenges to restore their equipment to a fully serviceable state.” 

The Marine Technician challenges involved the removal and re-install of two piston assemblies followed by a successful engine start. In parallel to the diesel component of the challenge the refrigeration system had to be re-claimed, purged and re-charged in order to simulate the replacement of the refrigeration unit. 

It is a timed competition, the winners being the team with the lowest overall time score, taking into account penalties for incorrect work practices.

The winners for the second year in succession of the Marine Technician Challenge were Fleet Support Unit – North East lead by team captain Petty Officer Marine Technician Ryan SchweitzerThey competed against teams from all other national Fleet Support Units and the Technical Training Facility from HMAS Cerberus.

The Electronics Technician Challenge tested the mettle of the teams who had to build, create code and program an autonomous robot and a computer controlled laser turret that detected and tracked projected targets and automatically engaged those targets with onboard weapons systems. 

Teams from Fleet Support Unit - West, South Eeast and Navy Headquarters - South Australia competed against themselves, and the clock, with the South Australians, lead by team captain leading Seaman Electronics Technician Codey Weller-McCulloch, emerging as the victors.

The Aviation Technicians Challenge had been contested throughout the year with teams conducting electrical structural and mechanical repairs. The final was contested between teams representing 725 and 816 Squadron. The Aviation technicians set to work amongst their fellow technicians with 816 Squadron lead by team captain Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Ashley Hoogwerf emerging as the champion technicians. 

Head of Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Col Lawrence said the passion and enthusiasm shown by all of the competitors on the day was most impressive.

“It was very rewarding to see a showcase of Navy’s technical talent, all in the one place and all participating in the spirit of the engineering challenge to promote teamwork, skill of hand and job planning,” Rear Admiral Lawrence said.

“I look forward to building on the success of the event and offering greater opportunities to participate in 2018.”

The 2017 Engineering Challenge winners are entitled to call themselves a “Champion Technician of the Navy” and were presented with individual medallions. They will also be eligible to wear a special cuff rate, which is a badge worn on the lower sleeve of ceremonial uniforms, and will receive a $5,000 voucher for high quality tools of trade.