At-sea experience for aspiring mariners

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Harley Slatter (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Topic(s): Recruitment, HMAS Melbourne (F05)

Defence Force Recruiting and Defence Work Experience Program participants aboard HMAS Melbourne prior to sailing from Fleet Base East to HMAS Creswell. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Defence Force Recruiting and Defence Work Experience Program participants aboard HMAS Melbourne prior to sailing from Fleet Base East to HMAS Creswell.

HMAS Melbourne has hosted 14 young women on board for the ship’s recent transit from Sydney to Jervis Bay as part of the four-day ‘Women in Navy’ work experience program.

Running for the first time, the program aims to attract women, some who have never been on a ship before, to many critical roles for sailors and officers.

The program coordinator, Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Kylie McGuinness, said the crew provided an excellent experience for all involved.

“The enthusiasm of Melbourne’s ship’s company takes away any need to put on the hard sell for a Navy career,” Petty Officer McGuinness said.

“The highlight of the program for me is seeing the girls, seeing the crew, doing the job they love to do.

“They start to understand that your work friends become your family.”

As part of the overview of life at sea, the participants talked to members of the crew about their jobs on the ship, toured the guided missile frigate’s capabilities and experienced the crew’s reactions to simulated attacks by ‘hostile forces’.

Aspiring Boatswains Mate Elle Taylor, who lives in the Hunter Valley, took great interest in the boarding party simulation and weapons displays and relished the opportunity to talk to the sailors directly involved.

“This looks like a job for me. I really don’t like sitting still,” Ms Taylor said.

Commanding Officer Melbourne Commander Charles Bourne said despite the hectic schedule, hands-on experiences were vital for many to understand what happens out at sea.

“It was a pleasure to host a group of keen and engaged future female sailors and officers,” he said.

“The chance to showcase and discuss Melbourne, a war fighting ship with such a proud history of service was satisfying for all involved, both crew and visitors alike.”

On the first day of the program, Petty Officer McGuinness had the participants to write a letter to themselves about what they want to have achieved in the next six months.

In six months’ time she will post it back to them so they can reflect.

The broader Defence Work Experience program’s success has delivered a return of around 38 per cent of participants applying for positions in Navy, Army and Air Force.

More information about this and other work experience initiatives in Navy can be found at www.defence.gov.au/workexperience