Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Paul (Jock) O’Keefe recently celebrated 38 years of service in the Royal Australian Navy at a Clear Lower Deck whilst deployed onboard HMAS Newcastle.
Chief Petty Officer O’Keefe joined the Navy at the age of 17, on 23 Aug 1977, as a Seaman Electrical Technical Power sailor, training at HMAS Cerberus. At that time Electrical Technical Power sailors were a part of the Weapons Electrical Branch.
After completing initial trade training at Cerberus and a short stint at HMAS Watson Chief Petty Officer O’Keefe joined his first ship, HMAS Torrens, in 1979. After completing more training at HMAS Nirimba, Chief Petty Officer O’Keefe spent the next seven months in the United States, completing platform specific courses, in preparation for joining the frigate HMAS Canberra in 1983 as part of her commissioning crew.
Whilst serving in HMA ships Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Newcastle Chief Petty Officer O’Keefe accumulated an impressive 22 years at sea. During those years he visited 14 Australian ports and 55 overseas ports in North America, Africa, North and South East Asia, the South Pacific Islands, the Middle East and New Zealand.
“One of the many vivid memories is of the time we came alongside in Suva, Fiji on 14 May 1987 in HMAS Sydney,” Chief Petty Officer O’Keefe said.
“The Commanding Officer made a pipe over the main broadcast saying that no one was allowed to step ashore because Fiji had just had a coup lead by Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka.
“I have enjoyed the diversity that the Navy has offered me over the 38 years and that is why I am still here enjoying my work in the Navy today,” he said
Currently a Section Manager in Newcastle, he says people often ask him how he could do the same job for 38 years.
“I tell them, it is not one job, it has been dozens of different jobs because every time I post to somewhere new the job has been different with new experiences.”
HMAS Newcastle is currently returning to Sydney after a successful Operation MANITOU deployment.