Surprise family reunion on the high seas

Published on MIDN Chloe Reay (author), ABCSO Christopher Lloyd (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Melbourne (F05), HMAS Success (OR 304), Replenishment at Sea (RAS)

SMNBM Corey Cheeseman and WO Stephen Cheeseman - a surprise reunion between father and son. (photo: ABCSO Christopher Lloyd)
SMNBM Corey Cheeseman and WO Stephen Cheeseman - a surprise reunion between father and son.

Serving members of the Navy and their loved ones know all too well that they are often called upon to sacrifice family time in the service of their nation.

It was with great regret that Warrant Officer Stephen Cheeseman, Command Warrant Officer serving in HMAS Melbourne was unable to attend his son, SMNBM Corey Cheeseman’s graduation from Boatswain’s Mate Category training in late July 2017. While SMNBM Cheeseman was learning the ropes at Category School, WO Cheeseman was deployed on board Melbourne supporting Indo Pacific Endeavour 18.

Following Boatswain’s Mate category training, SMNBM Cheeseman joined HMAS Success and promptly deployed with the battle tanker on operations, following in his father’s extensive operational foot steps. On the final leg of Melbourne’s seven month deployment to the Pacific, North and South East Asia, the two family members were brought together again when Success and Melbourne rendezvoused for a replenishment at sea (RAS).

SMNBM Corey Cheeseman and WO Stephen Cheeseman take a short time out from the busy ships’ schedules to make time for a family greeting.

SMNBM Corey Cheeseman and WO Stephen Cheeseman take a short time out from the busy ships’ schedules to make time for a family greeting.

Both ships seized the moment and developed a cunning plan to bring father and son together. WO Cheeseman may have missed his son’s graduation from Boatswain’s Mate Category training, however, he was determined to see him in action during his first RAS as dump party.

The plan was a closely held secret. With a quick boat transfer prior to the RAS, WO Cheeseman embarked Success to surprise his son. The reunion was touching with both father and son extremely grateful for the opportunity.

While service in the RAN often calls upon its members to sacrifice important family moments whilst operationally deployed, it was fantastic to see that this operation generated a memorable family moment of its own.