Regional exercise challenges communication skills

Published on CAPT Jesse Robilliard (author), CPL Steve Duncan (photographer)

Location(s): Malaysia

Topic(s): Training, Exercises, HMAS Ballarat (F155), HMAS Farncomb (S74), Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD

Royal Australian Navy seaman Lisa Norrie, from Communication and Information Systems, is seen working on a terminal within Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System, at Royal Military Air Force base Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia. (photo: CPL Steve Duncan)
Royal Australian Navy seaman Lisa Norrie, from Communication and Information Systems, is seen working on a terminal within Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System, at Royal Military Air Force base Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia.

Defence assets from nations across the globe have converged on Malaysia for a multi-lateral exercise helping countries work closer together for regional stability.
 
Enjoying her first deployment with the Royal Australian Navy, Seaman Communications and Information Systems Lisa Norrie described her role at Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD in simple terms.
 
“My job involves keeping the ships and the shore stations in contact with each other,” she said.
 
“I make sure the information flows."
 
The exercise involves the nations from the Five Power Defence Arrangements; Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Major Australian Defence Force platforms include frigate HMAS Ballarat and submarine HMAS Farncomb, while the Royal Australian Air Force has contributed an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and a KA350 King Air tactical mobility aircraft.

Established in 1971, the Five Power Defence Arrangements contributes both to the security of Singapore and Malaysia and to general stability in South East Asia.
 
Run from Royal Malaysian Air Force base Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia and timely communication is crucial when multiple armed services involved.
 
Seaman Norrie said foreign communication systems don't necessarily communicate directly with Australian ships and vice versa.
 
“So we have to transfer signals between our system and their system and send them out,” she said.
 
Growing up in Fitzroy Crossing and Jurien Bay in Western Australia, the 21-year old initially worked in retail after graduating High School.
 
''I just worked for a while, wasn't sure what I wanted to do,” she said.
 
“I got accepted into a psychology degree but wanted to do something that was a little bit more involved.”
 
The former WA Emergency Services Cadet marched into the Navy in early January 2016.
 
She dedicated herself to her basic training to the point where received the leadership potential award from her class at Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus.
 
“Recruit School was seven weeks and then we did communication specialist training, which was fun,” she said.
 
“I spent nine months at Defence Force School of Signals, and at the start I wasn’t sure whether I could do it or not.
 
“I stuck with it and now I’m literally working my dream job - I’m in a different country, having the time of my life.
 
“I have never been able to do so much with my life before.”
 
Seaman Norrie now lives in Rockingham and is based at Defence Communications Station Perth at HMAS Stirling
 
“We set up communication systems from satellite communication systems and HF radios,” she said.
 
“We also make sure all the cryptographic systems are up to date.”
 
Although Seaman Norrie’s first deployment is a short one, she’s enjoyed her time in Malaysia.
 
“I’ve really enjoyed exploring the local culture, taking advantage of the fact that we're in a different country,” she said.
 
Approximately 300 Australian Defence Force personnel are participating in the exercise, which is being held in international waters and within exercise areas in Malaysia and Singapore