Port Services key to capability

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Ships, Boats and Submarines

Personnel from Fleet Base West Port Services stand at the ready as Guided Missile Frigate, Indian Naval Ship Shivalik, comes alongside the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia, as a part of Exercise AUSINDEX 2017. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper)
Personnel from Fleet Base West Port Services stand at the ready as Guided Missile Frigate, Indian Naval Ship Shivalik, comes alongside the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia, as a part of Exercise AUSINDEX 2017.

From patrol boats to amphibious assault ships, the Port Services team in HMAS Stirling tackle the challenges of busy wharves around Western Australia. 

Handling up to eight shipping movements per day, the 60 personnel team work around-the-clock and provide timely support to warships and submarines arriving and leaving port.

Port Services Manager Lieutenant Commander Peter Mellick said that the team’s aim was to provide ships and submarines with a wide range of services with the least amount of fuss.

“There are many moving parts when a ship comes alongside and sails again, and we strive to be ahead of the game,” Lieutenant Commander Mellick said.

“Our team has evolved into a highly trained, multi-skilled, diverse service capability that handles a wide range of services with the preference of being unnoticed and a seamless encounter for the ships.

“The unit comprises a diversity of trades including boatswains, submariners and electronic warfare personnel forming the backbone to a team that thrives on the challenges of rigging, dogging, driving forklifts and operating the 80 tonne cranes.

“Gone are the days when boatswains were just upper-deck hands – they’re a highly trained trade that can handle a multitude of tasks and equipment safely, and within pressing timeframes.

“Our workforce is in demand, so we have to remain flexible and agile for when people choose to go back to sea,” he said.

One of those skilled individuals is Stirling’s Wharf Operations Supervisor Petty Officer Boatswain Todd Grieve.

He and his team had the task of berthing three Indian Navy ships before the start of the recent bilateral maritime exercise between Australia and India, Exercise AUSINDEX.

“Our personnel are trained from the onset at post in, providing them with High Risk Work Licenses and experience for all wharf operations,” Petty Officer Grieve said.

“Personnel are licensed and well equipped with essential on the job training before they are expected to independently perform any tasks. 

“I’ve been a part of the Port Services - West team for 18 months now and see my role as the perfect opportunity to develop my leadership skills and divisional representation among a large team of approximately 40 sailors.

“I love the culture of the Navy, the diversity of the people within it and the range of opportunities it provides us all with. 

“I’ve travelled to over 40 countries now, mostly with the Navy, lived in five states and sailed on more than 20 different platforms. 

“Before joining at 19 years old, I hadn’t even been on a boat larger than a tinny or ever boarded a flight. 

“The Navy has literally introduced me to the world,” he said.

Their area of responsibility for logisitics support for Australian and international naval vessels extends from Adelaide to Port Hedland.

“We send our teams to support ships at regional ports with the right equipment and resources which mitigates risk and reduces external costs saving Navy money,” Lieutenant Commander Peter Mellick said.