Victorian sailor keeps an ear out for dangers above and below

Published on CAPT Bradley Richardson (author), CPL David Cotton (photographer)

Royal Australian Navy sailors, Able Seaman Electronic Technician Submariner Haydon Bonderenko and Leading Seaman Electronic Technician Submariner Ben Smith at their work stations aboard HMAS Sheean during Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2014. (photo: CPL David Cotton)
Royal Australian Navy sailors, Able Seaman Electronic Technician Submariner Haydon Bonderenko and Leading Seaman Electronic Technician Submariner Ben Smith at their work stations aboard HMAS Sheean during Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2014.

Royal Australian Navy sailor, Able Seaman Electronic Technician Submariners Haydon Bonderenko and Grahame Kelaher monitor displays inside the control room of HMAS Sheean during Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2014.

Royal Australian Navy sailor, Able Seaman Electronic Technician Submariners Haydon Bonderenko and Grahame Kelaher monitor displays inside the control room of HMAS Sheean during Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2014.

Able Seaman Electronics Technician Submariner Haydn Bonderenko never imagined the opportunities he would have serving in the Navy.

At 22 years old, this small country town boy from Cobram, on the Murray River, in Victoria has visited foreign ports and sailed more than 20,000 nautical miles across the world’s oceans.

Able Seaman Bonderenko recently participated in the military exercise Bersama Shield, off the Malay Peninsula, and had the opportunity to visit Singapore.

“I have had a few opportunities to travel, but Singapore is amazing,” Able Seaman Bonderenko said.

“The exercise was a good opportunity to work with other nations like Malaysia and Singapore to test our skills.”

The Cobram Secondary College graduate joined the Navy at just 18 years of age, and has served on the Australian Collins Class Submarine HMAS Sheean for the last 12 months.

As an Electronic Technician Submariner, he has the important role of monitoring radar and sonar systems from his work station.

“We listen to sonar for the sounds of everything that is in the water,” he said.

“We can’t see what’s around us when we are below the surface, so we to need to use our ears to listen.

“We will receive feeds from the sonar to track these objects in the water, be they ships, rocks or fish.”

“Going through waterways with heavy merchant shipping can be very busy and we have to work closely, as a team, to safely help the submarine transit through the water.”

As part of his role, Able Seaman Bonderenko also works with lower voltage electronic equipment, to maintain and repair the sonar combat systems.

Since joining the Navy, Able Seaman Bonderenko has also had the opportunity to qualify as a ship’s diver.

“I can dive under the boat to clear any debris, or check for damage,” he said.

Exercise Bersama Shield concluded on June 4.

The Exercise aim was to strengthen professional relationships and interoperability with Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom.