Torres Straits doctor enjoying Navy career

Published on LCDR Tracey Bellerby (author), ABIS Sarah Williams (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER, HMAS Darwin (F04), Bungaree Indigenous Performance Group

HMAS Darwin's Medical Officer, Lieutenant Beimop Tapim, RAN, conducts a medical check of a member of ship's company. (photo: ABIS Sarah Williams)
HMAS Darwin's Medical Officer, Lieutenant Beimop Tapim, RAN, conducts a medical check of a member of ship's company.

At the age of 18, Lieutenant Beimop ‘BJ’ Tapim joined the Royal Australian Navy in January 1995, from Mer Island, Torres Straits as a Medical Assistant. He followed in the footsteps of his parents, his father was a Leading Seaman Safety Equipment sailor and his mother was a Leading Seaman Steward.

“My family and people were very supportive, though by joining the Navy I have missed out on numerous cultural activities throughout my career,” Lieutenant Tapim said.

He followed in his parents’ footsteps for the job security that the Navy gives. His main focus in joining as a Medical Assistant was to get into the health industry, so one day he could help his people. Many of his family are highly represented throughout the Australian Defence Force, with uncles and aunties and more recently, many of the younger generation.

After a number of years as a Medical Assistant, including several sea postings, Lieutenant Tapim progressed his career by commencing studies to become a General Practitioner (GP) in 2003. After successful completion of his studies, he now works as a civilian GP registrar, as well as a Navy Doctor; the later being a role he is currently fulfilling in HMAS Darwin during the ship’s deployment on Operation SLIPPER.

“Some of my best experiences were as a junior sailor, especially the camaraderie and travel,” Lieutenant Tapim said.

These feelings about the Navy have been passed to his children to enable them to make a choice if they wish to join the Australian Defence Force, however he has also advised them that a “tertiary education will be highly encouraged”.

Lieutenant Tapim was chosen to represent Navy’s Indigenous Australians at the International Fleet Review (IFR) in October 2013 as part of the Royal Australian Navy Indigenous Dance Group. Activities for the IFR included performing at the Town Hall and as a curtain raiser for the fireworks.

The IFR was Navy’s celebration of the 100 year anniversary since the first Royal Australian Navy ships entered Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913.

“I am proud to be serving in a Navy that is committed to being the number one career choice for Indigenous youth,” Lieutenant Tapim said.

Darwin is assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) to conduct maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.

The CMF is working to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, reduce illegal trafficking, and to promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.

Darwin is deployed in support of Operation SLIPPER and is the 57th rotation of Royal Australian Navy ships to deploy to the Middle Eastern Area of Operations, since 1990. Operation SLIPPER is the Australian Defence Force Contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy, and enhancing regional maritime strategy.