Hornsby sailor proud to be part of search for lost WWI submarine

Published on LEUT Kara Wansbury (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator - Mine Warfare Michael Leahy in the ship's dive boat with HMAS Yarra in the background. (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator - Mine Warfare Michael Leahy in the ship's dive boat with HMAS Yarra in the background.

Hornsby boy, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator - Mine Warfare Michael Leahy has had a busy twelve months, including a few special days that he considers to be the best of his Navy career, so far.
 
The first was the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review, a spectacle on Sydney Harbour to celebrate 100 years service of the Royal Australian Navy.
 
“It was one of my best experiences in my Navy career so far. We were situated between Fort Dennison and the Opera House, surrounded by tonnes of fireworks. As a Sydney lad, I felt so proud to be an Aussie and to serve in the Navy that day,” Leahy said.
 
The other 'best days' occurred between 6-9 September, when Able Seaman Leahy was part of the crew that searched for Australia's first submarine, HMAS AE1, which went missing, presumed sunk, off the waters off East New Britain, in Papua New Guinea, on 14 September 1914 - during World War I.
 
“It was hard work, without much rest, but the dedication to find the submarine was important to me. It felt important to honour the sacrifice that the sailor’s from AE1 made in WWI,” Leahy said.
 
HMAS Yarra’s search mission resulted in the discovery of a number of contacts of interest. Some of the contacts discovered in the search from 6-9 September were able to be classified as natural objects. One contact remains unidentified and will require further investigation, the timing of which will be subject to operational requirements.
 
The keen sportsman, who grew up in Hornsby and attended St Leo’s College, he has taken his teamwork and 'can-do' attitude from the sports ground to his role in the operations room of one of Australia’s most advanced Mine Warfare vessels, HMAS Yarra. His job is varied and that is what he enjoys most.

HMAS Yarra's ship's company man their stations during a man overboard exercise in the Bismarck Sea.

HMAS Yarra's ship's company man their stations during a man overboard exercise in the Bismarck Sea.


On any given day at sea, he could be searching for, identifying and classifying mines, conducting seamanship evolutions or shooting small arms. When he is not doing all of that, he is responsible for maintaining all of the lifesaving and safety equipment onboard the ship; something the family oriented sailor does with pride.
 
“I love my job, because there is always so much to do. I have made so many friends and when I am on a ship, they are like my family. So, making sure that all the lifesaving equipment is up to date is a really important job,” he said.
 
“I really appreciate the career progression possibilities in the Navy, and it is always fun to drive the boats and fire the weapons,” Able Seaman Leahy said.
 
Even though he has an exciting career, his thoughts often turn to home.
 
“When I head home, I am looking forward to catching up with my family and making sure I keep Mum and Dad happy, and see my girlfriend, Raina. We will probably have a dinner at home, because she is a fantastic cook, and head to the beach for a beautiful Sydney day.”