Warfighting women winning at sea

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Cerberus, HMAS Parramatta (F154), Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER

Seaman Boatswain's Mate Paige Powers makes a new heaving line on the Gun Direction Platform of HMAS Parramatta, during Exercise Ocean Explorer 17, off the coast of Western Australia. (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Seaman Boatswain's Mate Paige Powers makes a new heaving line on the Gun Direction Platform of HMAS Parramatta, during Exercise Ocean Explorer 17, off the coast of Western Australia.

Sailing on the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia in a Royal Australian Navy frigate is just another day in the life of Seaman Boatswain's Mate Paige Powers.

After completing her initial recruit training at HMAS Cerberus in Westernport, Victoria, Seaman Powers underwent category training at Seamanship School in order to become a qualified Boatswain's Mate.

Seaman Powers is now an important member of HMAS Parramatta’s ship’s company.

“As a Boatswain's Mate, I specialise in a number of small weapons and I’m involved in ship’s husbandry and the seamanship side of things,” she said.

“This includes being involved in replenishments at sea and steering the ship.”

As Parramatta is her first sea posting, Seaman Powers doesn’t have the same level of sea-going experience as some of her colleagues, but given the
ship’s busy schedule, she expects that to change soon.

Currently the frigate is involved in Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER which includes more than 17 ships, submarines and aircraft from five participating navies, as well as Royal Australian Air Force supporting elements.

"This is the first exercise I’ve been involved in, but I’ve already taken part in the ship’s unit readiness evaluation which was challenging but rewarding at the same time,” she said.

Unit assessment phases are a particularly gruelling time for Royal Australian Navy ships in which the vessel and the ship’s company are put through a number of intensive warfighting and damage control scenarios.

The scenarios are designed to prove that the ship is capable of defending itself and achieving the mission set out for them.

“The evaluation is a stressful time and we all work very hard,” Seaman Powers said.

“But it’s also a time where we bond together as team, find confidence in ourselves and each other and we come out of it knowing that we can achieve whatever it is that we’re asked to do.”

For more information about boatswain's mate roles visit http://www.defencejobs.gov.au/navy/jobs/BoatswainsMate/.