A visit to Hobart by an Australian warship was enough to bring a former Tasmanian lobster fisherman to tears – reflecting on the service of his two sons in the Royal Australian Navy.
Denis MacQueen was visiting one of his sons, Chief Petty Officer Boastwain Daniel MacQueen, currently serving in HMAS Choules, when his emotions overcame him.
“I’m extremely proud of what Daniel has accomplished in his career with Navy,” Mr MacQueen said.
“With his brother, Ben, they have served the Navy well in many different ways, at peace and during operations.
“I can’t help getting emotional when I see them, particularly where they come home to where they grew up in Tasmania.”
Chief Petty Officer MacQueen is currently the ‘Buffer’ onboard Choules running a team that are the experts in vehicle movement, seamanship, boat work, hand-held weapons and rope work.
Coincidentally, and uniquely, his brother now Warrant Officer Ben MacQueen was the first Buffer on Choules, joining her as part of her commissioning crew in the United Kingdom and sailed with her as she was transferred to Australian service in 2011.
Chief Petty Officer MacQueen said it was the influence of his brother that gave him the impetus to join.
“I had been working on my dad’s cray boat when my brother was in recruiting in 1989, it seemed the right thing to do at the right time to join,” he said.
“It was the best decision of my life, and it has defined who I am.
“Dad taught me to be a mariner, but the Navy taught me how to fight and win at sea. I am so fortunate to have such a great Dad, and such a fulfilling and varied career.”
Choules was in Hobart as the Flagship for the 2017 Royal Hobart Regatta, a Royal Australian Navy role dating back to 1904, on the back end of an intense period of training and trials since coming out of refit in October 2016.
“Most recently we were operating with HMAS Adelaide in Jervis Bay sharpening our amphibious warfare training, with embarked aircraft from 808 Squadron,” Chief Petty Officer MacQueen said.
“We have an unparalleled capacity to move large amounts of cargo, ranging from Abrams tanks to humanitarian supplies, to diggers, rapidly and efficiently within Australian waters and internationally.
“My job is to manage the vehicle deck and in this job I work closely with my team of 24 sailors and soldiers on board and it’s the tight working relationships and absolute focus on teamwork that allows my team and Choules to be such an efficient, effective and potent amphibious platform.”
But for one proud Dad, the reunion was a chance to reflect.
“They are two different boys in many ways, but they share the same dedication to service and complete professionalism,” Mr MacQueen said.
And in typical Tasmanian understatement he assessed Chief Petty Officer MacQueen’s performance in the role, “He has turned out OK, hasn’t’ he?”