Engineering study put to the test

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Sydney, New South Wales

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Arunta (F151)

Assistant Marine Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Coral Belcher, in the Machinery Control Room onboard HMAS Arunta, alongside Fleet Base West, Garden Island.   (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Mack)
Assistant Marine Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Coral Belcher, in the Machinery Control Room onboard HMAS Arunta, alongside Fleet Base West, Garden Island.

Arunta’s Assistant Marine Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Coral Belcher, is putting seven years of study to work in the Anzac frigate, as part of the team deployed in the Middle East.

“My role is to help monitor all mechanical and electrical equipment and systems onboard, and to manage any engineering defects that may arise,” she said.

“As I’m still in a training role, I will be learning the systems and will be pretty hands-on."

“This will allow me to come back as a Deputy Marine Engineer Officer on my next posting,” Lieutenant Belcher said.

After graduating from Ingham State High School, Lieutenant Belcher said it was an easy decision to join the Australian Defence Force. It was just a question of which branch to join.

“I always wanted to join the military. It just took me a little while to decide exactly what service and what job."

“Both my grandfathers were in the military, one in the Royal Air Force and one in the Royal Navy; I chose the Navy because it sounded a little more exciting,” Lieutenant Belcher said.

After joining the Royal Australian Navy in 2010, Lieutenant Belcher underwent officer training at the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Creswell  on the New South Wales south coast, before going on to study mechanical engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy, in Canberra.

“It’s been purely training so far and it’s taken me seven years to get to this point but it’s been fantastic,” Lieutenant Belcher said.

“Deploying on Arunta to the Middle East and putting my training into action is what it’s all about!”

For the 191 men and women in the crew, the frigate is home for the nine month deployment, as they conduct maritime security operations as part of multi-national Combined Maritime Forces, deterring terrorists and the trade of narcotics that fund them.

Having only recently got engaged to her partner Jess, Lieutenant Belcher said it took some getting used to the idea of being away from Australia and her partner for such a long period of time.

“It will be hard being away, especially over Christmas, but Jess and I have a strong support network, which will make it a bit easier while I’m away."

“Luckily Arunta has email and wifi, not just for work but also for personal use, so we can communicate via Facebook,” Lieutenant Belcher said.

Following her deployment on Operation MANITOU, Lieutenant Belcher says she is looking forward to spending time with her loved ones and paying a visit to her mum.

“This will ruin the surprise for mum, but I’m planning to go and visit her in Forrest Beach as soon as we get back from deployment."

“It’ll be great to see my family and all my friends from high school,” Lieutenant Belcher said.