Downsizing enhances experience

This article has photo gallery Published on POIS Paul McCallum (author and photographer), ABIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02), HMAS Bathurst (P85), Training Authority - Maritime Warfare

Sub Lieutenant Michael Batchelor. (photo: POIS Paul McCallum)
Sub Lieutenant Michael Batchelor.

Moving between ships isn’t unusual for Maritime Warfare Officers like Sub Lieutenant Michael Batchelor, but going from one of Navy’s biggest to one of the smallest is more than just a size adjustment.
 
When the opportunity came to spend some time at sea onboard patrol boat HMAS Bathurst, he knew it would be an adjustment from his usual role in amphibious giant HMAS Canberra, and an opportunity to improve as a navigator that was too good to pass up.
 
“With Canberra alongside, I was offered a position as an officer of the watch in Bathurst,” Sub Lieutenant Batchelor said.
 
“I really enjoy being on the bridge of a ship at sea, and my short term goal is to become a navigator on a patrol boat.
 
“So when asked to join Bathurst it was an easy decision to make,” he said.
 
Aside from the obvious size difference between the two ships, the roles of a Maritime Warfare Officer are quite different as well.
 
While Canberra has a flight deck and a well-dock, Bathurst is more agile and conducts a vastly different role.
 
Bathurst’s primary role is border protection and enforcing our fishing zone laws, so we have to be ready to respond to a rapidly changing environment with support from Border Force and the Royal Australian Air Force,” he said.
 
“Canberra 
is demanding in other ways, and there are lots of things to be on top of such as helicopter or well-dock operations, and setting the ship up for those evolutions; the challenges on a patrol boat are more about fisheries enforcement and being ready to conduct a boarding in any condition, as well as managing a ship with a much smaller crew.”
 
Sub Lieutenant Batchelor said the experience on the boat had reinforced his goal and the small team environment presented lots of opportunity.
 
“My time on Bathurst has given me another taste of life on a small boat, and as a navigator I will have more responsibility on the bridge. That is something that is really exciting to me, and I can’t wait to take on those challenges when they arise.”