Setting the Christmas table on the high seas

Published on LEUT Tony White (author), LSIS Jo Dilorenzo (photographer)

Leading Seaman Jessica Sampson onboard HMAS Parramatta this year for Christmas conducting border protection operations in Northern Australian waters. (photo: LSIS Jo Dilorenzo)
Leading Seaman Jessica Sampson onboard HMAS Parramatta this year for Christmas conducting border protection operations in Northern Australian waters.

Adelaide native Jessica Sampson works in a hospitality job with a difference. Like many other 22 year olds, she likes to travel and expects to spend New Year’s Eve in the company of a bunch of young people of around the same age. But unlike most of her peers, Jessica will bring the New Year in at sea, deployed on Operation RESOLUTE onboard the Australian warship HMAS Parramatta.
 
The Royal Australian Navy Maritime Logistics - Steward will be serving in a leadership role amongst her fellow sailors on the ship as it conducts border protection patrols across Australia’s northern maritime border. Like many Leading Seaman in the Navy, Jessica has taken on leadership responsibilities while many of her peers in the civilian world are just looking for their first jobs after completing university.
 
The workload hasn’t prevented her from achieving civilian qualifications though. Jessica has picked up her Certificate III in Hospitality while serving in the Navy, while at the same time has earned an Operational Service Medal and an Australian Defence Medal for four years service.
 
And, while there may be plenty of hospitality graduates Jessica’s age from Adelaide, not many of them have also completed courses in Combat Survivability and Survival at Sea. These additional courses mean that she is trained to perform basic repairs to the hull of a warship after a collision or attack, and has the mental toughness required to endure extended periods in a life raft.
 
Jessica will be drawing on some of her training over the Christmas break, on duty and prepared for anything. This is her third stint deployed on Operation RESOLUTE and like most of the ship’s company, she says she finds the work rewarding and likes knowing that she is helping her country.
 
As for Christmas and New Year,  “I hope my family, Fred, Debbie and Rachel Sampson, all have a happy New Year. My personal wish for myself is that I get the chance to have a bath some time in the not too distant future,” said Leading Seaman Sampson.