Success serendipity for Tasmanian two

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), CMDR Chloe Wootten (author), ABIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, Northern Territory, Hobart, Tasmania

Lieutenant Adam Grover and Midshipman Renee Brerelis onboard HMAS Success in the Northern Australian Exercise Area during Exercise KAKADU 2016. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Lieutenant Adam Grover and Midshipman Renee Brerelis onboard HMAS Success in the Northern Australian Exercise Area during Exercise KAKADU 2016.

Two cold climate naval officers have found themselves sharing the excitement and warmth of a northern Australian wargame, crossing paths in roles that the years have turned on end.

Tasmanian, Midshipman Renee Brelis, is currently learning to drive a warship, undertaking the first phases of the Junior Warfare Application Course in her initial year as a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Australian Navy.

She is learning her trade from the bridge team in replenishment ship HMAS Success, undertaking demanding work that includes watchkeeping duties, navigation, and chart work. 

In 2017 she will commence studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra to undertake her undergraduate degree in science after experiencing life at sea.

Focussed on that goal, she had a a back to the future moment when she was reunited with her former high school English teacher in the middle of the ocean off Darwin. 

Midshipman Brelis, is a former Mount Carmel College student from Sandy Bay, Hobart, and in 2011, her final year at the college, Lieutenant Adam Grover, also a Navy Reserve Public Relations specialist, is one of the school’s educators. 

Lieutenant Grover cross-decked to HMAS Success from HMAS Warramunga as part of the public affairs support to KAKADU 16.

“I was on the port bridge wing, measuring relative ship distances while Success was undertaking a replenishment with Canadian ship, HMCS Vancouver," Midshipman Brelis said.

“I didn’t take any notice of the person who came and stood next to me."

“When Lieutenant Grover said ‘good afternoon' I looked up and saw I was standing next to the source of the familiar voice, also in uniform."

“I was so shocked and pleased but he was definitely not a person I was expecting to see!” she said. 

Lieutenant Grover was equally surprised at the coincidental meeting but said, as a full-time educator in his civilian role, he was glad to see one of his former students pursuing their dreams.

“Renee was a very strong student. She was confident, competent and loved sport and life."

"She was a role model in Mount Carmel College and her successes, academic, sporting and co-curricular, have and will continue to strengthen her contribution to Navy."

“While I was both surprised and delighted to see her in what are fairly untypical circumstances, I am not at all surprised to see her excelling in the Navy,” Lieutenant Grover said. 

“From my point of view, Navy is lucky to have a young officer of the calibre of Midshipman Brelis and I look forward to meeting her again as she progresses through her naval career.”

Lieutenant Grover joined the Navy Reserve in 1997 and since then has been involved in domestic media management and coverage of major exercises. 

Another highlight has been undertaking representational and ceremonial activities as Naval Aide de Camp to the Governor of Tasmania between 1999 and 2002.