Expectations meet capability in support role

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), ABIS Sarah Ebsworth (photographer), LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West

Members of Fleet Base West's Port Services stand ready to fasten lines as Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), HMAS Adelaide, enters Fremantle Harbour for the first time to dock alongside the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia.  (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper)
Members of Fleet Base West's Port Services stand ready to fasten lines as Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), HMAS Adelaide, enters Fremantle Harbour for the first time to dock alongside the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia.

Acquiring the skills to provide ports services to over half of the Navy's major warships and submarines was a rapid learning experience for one sailor at HMAS Stirling.

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator – Underwater Simone Maris, ‘flew the coop’ in 2012 after finishing school in Caboolture, to learn and experience the Royal Australian Navy lifestyle.

Her main role includes the operation of Combat Data Systems, radars, identification sensors, Information Networks and their associated equipment.

Combat Systems Operators are then required to specialise in Anti-Submarine Warfare or Air Warfare, Tactical Data Links and Combat Data Systems, which are referred to as either Combat Systems Operators (Underwater) or Combat Systems Operators (Above Water).

As an underwater specialist her branch of Naval Warfare uses warships, aircraft or other submarines to detect, classify, track and prosecute enemy submarines, if required. Anti-Submarine Warfare also involves protecting friendly ships operating in a hostile submarine operating area.

“Working out-of-category in Port Services grants me the opportunity to learn about so many different ships and other aspects of the Navy outside of my job,” Able Seaman Maris said.

Port Services is made up of a team of 46 personnel providing a wide range of 24/7 shipping and berthing services supporting Fleet Base West which has grown to become one of the Navy’s busiest bases. 

“My role is to aid the Fleet support office by providing updates of field exercises and liaising with Fremantle port authority while logging jobs for ships with whatever they need.”

Fleet Base West is home to over half of the Navy's major warships and the Collins class submarines - the job does come with challenges. 

“The hardest thing is when we have things change quickly and get organised so that we are providing the best possible service to our Fleet.

“My great grandfather was in the military and served in the First World War.

“Although I am yet to deploy, I wear my Australian Defence Medal with pride as it recognises Australian Defence Force personnel who have efficiently completed four years’ service.

“I enjoy catching up with my Defence mates coming off ships alongside or on the base for courses. 

“My learning hasn’t stopped since I obtained certificates in business and hospitality – as well as the standard Navy qualifications you get while in Recruit School and category training.

“My ambitions are to progress further in my career and also experience what else the Navy has to offer and continue getting more qualifications,” she said.

Port Services personnel also coordinate all ship and submarine visits to regional ports between Port Headland and Esperance including the Cocos Islands.