Ship visits provide new opportunities for Cairns Navy pilot

Published on CPO Dan Carter (author)

Location(s): HMAS Cairns, QLD

Topic(s): HMAS Cairns

KRI Saltan Iskandar Muda, at Cairns for a port visit, 17 October 2013. (photo: LS Adams)
KRI Saltan Iskandar Muda, at Cairns for a port visit, 17 October 2013.

The influx of visiting warships to HMAS Cairns has provided local Port Services Manager, Lieutenant Commander Peter Mellick a chance to consolidate his pilotage skills a little faster than usual.

LCDR Mellick, who is a North Queensland native, also holds the title of Naval Harbourmaster Cairns and only qualified as a Naval Pilot in August. He says the timing couldn’t have been better, given the number of ships visiting the region.

“The International Fleet Review (IFR) and Exercise TRITON CENTENARY 2013 has brought a number of foreign ships to Australian waters. A lot of the ships are stopping off in North Queensland to enjoy a few days respite before heading home,” said LCDR Mellick.

“This has been a busy time for Cairns Port Services. I had the opportunity to pilot the Thai Offshore Patrol Vessel Krabi and the Indonesian Corvette Sultan Iskandar Muda into Cairns. Both of these vessels were around 90 metres long which is an extra 20 metres on our largest home-ported ships.”

“It’s a real sense of achievement as I only commenced the job in May this year and qualified as a restricted pilot in August. To have the Navy’s Senior Pilot endorse my pilotage skills beyond Minor War Vessels is recognition I am pleased to build upon,” said LCDR Mellick.

Since bringing in the Thai and Indonesian Navy ships, LCDR Mellick has further consolidated, supporting the Townsville Pilot bringing USS Chosin into the newly opened Berth 10 and piloting the Royal Malaysian Navy Frigate KD Jebat into Cairns.

Jebat was a very satisfying experience as coming alongside went so smoothly” he said.

“At 105 metres long, to swing in the basin and berth in limited space, that’s my new personal best.”

LCDR Mellick says with so many ships visiting, it is a great time for Cairns locals to ship spot, and a real boost for the local economy.

“The IFR was an exciting time for the Navy. It is great that the people of Cairns get to share in part of that experience now,” said LCDR Mellick.