Thursday Island sailor keeps Melbourne on task

Published on LCDR Julian Brett (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Location(s): Thursday Island

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Melbourne (F05)

Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell onboard HMAS Melbourne currently on patrol in the Middle East Region on Operation MANITOU. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell onboard HMAS Melbourne currently on patrol in the Middle East Region on Operation MANITOU.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell has achieved some significant milestones in her relatively short Navy career.
 
The most recent of which was earned her Marine Systems Technician endorsement, allowing her conduct her on-watch duties unsupervised. Able Seaman Ketchell is a graduate of HMAS Sydney’s Marine Technician training program which enabled her to fast track through the practical phase in since joining HMAS Melbourne, in June this year.
 
Able Seaman Ketchell joined the Navy from Thursday Island. She said she always wanted to join the Navy.

“I’m really enjoying myself, especially now that I’m out in the Fleet, I feel like I’m really contributing to the Navy team," she said.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell walks off the helo pad at Thursday Island after being winched down from HMAS Melbourne's Seahawk helicopter.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell walks off the helo pad at Thursday Island after being winched down from HMAS Melbourne's Seahawk helicopter.


Able Seaman Ketchell joined Melbourne just prior to her preparations for the ship's current Middle East deployment and immediately noticed a professional and motivated tempo amongst Melbourne’s ship’s company.

“At first it was hard to keep up, but I didn’t stop trying and there are great people onboard who helped me all the way.”

In her primary role, Able Seaman Ketchell is a part of the team responsible for operating Melbourne’s auxiliary equipment. This is a significant responsibility for a junior sailor who had a seven-month deployment in front of her.
 
When Melbourne departed for operational duty to Middle East region as part of Operation MANITOU, Able Seaman Ketchell’s family were unable to attend to farewell her from Fleet Base East. However an opportunity presented itself during Melbourne’s transit through the Torres Strait Islands.
 
Melbourne’s Seahawk helicopter, was tasked with conducting aircrew continuation training at Thursday Island.

“When the Marine Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander Keith Hanlon, told me I was going to see my family I was blown away. I never dreamt this could be possible," Able Seaman Ketchell said.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell with her family on Thursday Island.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Franceen Ketchell with her family on Thursday Island.


On being winched down as part of the aircrew training touching down, Able Seaman Kettchel was greeted by her entire family.
 
“It was so good to be back with my family and they loved the helicopter.”
 
What a way to make an entrance.
 
Melbourne’s deployment to the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU has resulted in significant drug interceptions so far.  She is operating as part of the Combined Maritime Forces in the region.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152622.