A submariner’s view from above

This article has photo gallery Published on Mr Andrew Bujdegan (author)

Location(s): Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

Topic(s): HMAS Dechaineux (S76)

Petty Officer Claire Goward from HMAS Dechaineux during her ascent of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia - a submariner’s view of what lay beneath. (photo: Unknown)
Petty Officer Claire Goward from HMAS Dechaineux during her ascent of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia - a submariner’s view of what lay beneath.

Port visits are a part of naval life and when these occur, different members of the crew have tourism activities in mind.

During HMAS Dechaineux’s recent port visit to Kota Kinabalu, Petty Officer Claire Goward finally managed to tick off a bucket list item by conquering the climb of Mount Kinabalu, South East Asia’s highest peak.

The adventure was spread over two days and incorporated an overnight stay on the mountain lodge where Petty Officer Goward was thrilled by the diversity of the flora and the breathtaking scenery that the Bornean landscape provided.

This was an immersing and welcome break from the fluorescent lighting and constant whirring of machinery onboard Dechaineux.

The first morning started at 0630 where the journey began with a brief bus ride towards Mount Kinabalu.

Shortly afterwards, Petty Officer Goward was enthusiastically hiking from Timpohon Gate (1866m) to the overnight base camp, Laban Rata.

Petty Officer Goward said after arriving at Laban Rata (3272m) at around 1430 (2:30pm), she welcomed the early finish to that day’s climbing - it was now time to tuck into a delicious mushroom soup and hearty dinner before the group tackled the mountain in the morning.

“It was a 0200 start the following morning and the pilgrimage to the top was made by torch light,” she said.

“It took a solid three hours of silent trudging up the endless granite plains with the moon and stars ominously revealing the jagged features of the mountain around me.

“I summited at 4095m and finally the stark beauty of the mountain came clearly into view - what an incredible feeling and to think that only days prior I was under the sea on a submarine.”

The two-day climb was an exceptional experience for Petty Officer Goward, but she had some advice for others attempting the trek.

“I would recommend focussing on fitness training along with a lot of stair climbing which would provide excellent preparation for the task,” she said.

Petty Officer Goward said this adventure proves that Navy not only offers an exciting career below the sea, but also an adventurous lifestyle above it.

For this submariner the adage is proving true: Join the Navy, see the world.