The ship’s company of minehunter HMAS Diamantina are a creative bunch and in their off watch time while undertaking border protection duties as part of Operation RESOLUTE, they undertook a fresh challenge in the form of gingerbread house building competition.
Whilst en route from the Torres Strait to Cairns in late November, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Jason Nosworthy made all the necessary arrangements. The crew were arranged into seven teams according to their mess or specialisation and a judging panel of three was assigned. Once the teams had mustered and received a gingerbread kit each, they had 90 minutes to construct and decorate their creation prior to the judging. The assessment criteria was based on aesthetics, quality of construction and architectural overlay (creative use of lollies and icing).
"The competition produced some impressive entrants and it was clear that a lot of thought and creativity had been put into the respective designs, props and final touches," Able Seaman Nosworthy said.
"The exhibits ranged from traditional gingerbread houses to some very modern interpretations which made life difficult for the judges!"
Following much deliberation, the winner was selected for the imagination of the communicators and logisticians who crafted it. The four man team produced a ‘snow-covered’ Christmas gingerbread lodge, complete with Christmas tree and a Santa Claus. This design proved to be very popular with the ship’s company who were impressed by the attention to detail. On this occasion there were no prizes because each team got to devour their handiwork after the judging and official photography.
“It was a fun filled event at the end of a patrol, and a chance to unwind and come up with some clever designs,” Able Seaman Nosworthy he said.
The professionally crafted gingerbread houses and decorations were generously donated free of charge by a company called Gingerbread Folk who regularly run competitions on Facebook. Upon hearing of Diamantina’s deployment the company was very happy to oblige and provide some kits to the ship for an onboard contest.
Karen Sharman, the Head of Gingerbread House said making a gingerbread house is a reflection of real life.
“It encourages bonding and collaboration, boosts festive spirit and allows personalities to shine through,” she said.
The competition came towards the end of Diamantina’s three month deployment which included a mission readiness work up and boarding operations. It was her third deployment in 17 months, and was perhaps fitting that her return to Sydney marked the end of the Minehunter commitment to the operation and a return to their core business of mine warfare.
Since 22 September the ship had been deployed in support of government operations, which involved the enforcement of national legislation within Australia’s maritime zones. The crew and their newly found festive decorating skills were reunited with families in December to enjoy a well earned Christmas break.
The competition was one of several events that took place to ensure the maintenance of morale and ‘esprit d’corps’ on board, which are critical components of operational capability.