150 years technical experience

Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author), POIS Ollie Garside (photographer)

Five Chief Petty Officer Marine Technicians (CPOMT) in NUSHIP Canberra's aft main engine room. (From left) CPOMT Colin Milligan, CPOMT Desmond Soar, CPOMT Chris Ware, CPOMT Darren Harkins and CPOMT James Dew (now Warrant Officer). (photo: POIS Ollie Garside)
Five Chief Petty Officer Marine Technicians (CPOMT) in NUSHIP Canberra's aft main engine room. (From left) CPOMT Colin Milligan, CPOMT Desmond Soar, CPOMT Chris Ware, CPOMT Darren Harkins and CPOMT James Dew (now Warrant Officer).

From some of the smallest vessels in the fleet to the largest ship the Navy has ever had, five Marine Technicians have charted a course to HMAS Canberra.
 
With over 150 years of service between them, Warrant Officer James Dew, and Chief Petty Officers Colin Milligan, Darren Harkins, Chris Ware and Jim Soar bring a wealth of knowledge to the engineering department.
 
Warrant Officer Dew started his career working on larger ships such as the River Class Destroyer Escorts and replenishment ship HMAS Westralia before moving to small boats.
 
“The size of the engines onboard Canberra isn’t much different to the tankers I worked on but the gas turbine is new for me,” said Warrant Officer Dew.
 
Chief Petty Officer Soar is responsible for the management and maintenance of the gas turbine, diesels, fin stabilisers, azimuth pods, bow thrusters and associated systems.
 
He put the size of the engines into perspective by comparing them to those in the Landing Craft Heavy he was last posted to.
 
Canberra’s engines are somewhat larger to the previous engines I worked on,” he said.
 
“I used to be able to work over the top of the engine standing beside it now we need to climb a ladder to get to the top.
 
“My last ship’s main engines were 14.6 litres in capacity and on Canberra each the generators onboard are 566 litres each or 35.375 litres per cylinder.”
 
The size of the engineering department has also been a big change for the small boats Chiefs.
 
“Stepping back from working directly for the Commanding Officer is something I’ve had to come to grips with,” Chief Petty Officer Soar said.
 
“Also the division of responsibilities between the five of us is something new I’ve had to deal with.”
 
Chief Petty Officer Milligan is responsible for the power generation onboard including all the electrics including the high voltage.
 
“As the Senior Technical Officer of four different Mine Hunter Coastal (MHC) vessels previously, it is a big difference being onboard Canberra where one MHC could fit in our well dock,” said Chief Petty Officer Milligan.
 
All five senior sailors said being a part of the commissioning crew of Canberra was something they would look back on with pride.
 
“It has been a rewarding experience with many ups and downs and I am glad I have been part of it,” Chief Petty Officer Soar said.
 
“It will be nice to have our Mariner Skills Evaluation and the First of Class trials over and done with and then hopefully, sometime in the not too distant future, go somewhere to fly the flag.

“It would be nice to show off our new capability and hopefully have some fun and memorable experiences along the way,” he said.

Canberra has four billets for Chief Marine Technicians covering the different technical specialist areas. Chief Petty Officer Ware joined the ship early to conduct an extended handover with Warrant Officer Dew to ensure enough time for a thorough transfer of knowledge of the new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) systems.