Navy's sail training ship STS Young Endeavour has crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in more than twenty years, arriving in Europe to participate in the Centenary of Anzac Commemorations and the International Tall Ship Races.
Former patrol boat Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Dion Curtis, joined Young Endeavour for the 47 day trans-Atlantic crossing as a returning crew-member on Reserve service.
"Crewing Young Endeavour is the best job in the world!
"My role is to inspire young Australians to seize opportunities, to realise their potential, and to be all that they can be - that’s the driving force behind all of what we do.
“We aim that every person walking off this ship does so having grown as an individual and with enhanced skills that will assist them in day to day life”.
Lieutenant Commander Curtis first joined Young Endeavour in 1999 as Navigator. He achieved Command endorsement in 2005, and continues to sail at least one voyage every year.
Since transferring to the Naval Reserves in 2009, he has worked in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Emergency Response Division, a very rewarding job, and one which benefits from the teamwork and leadership skills he gains from being on a ship at sea in such a close unit.
“Every time I come to work in the Navy I feel privileged to work in such an interesting and dynamic environment.
"Delivering the Youth Development Program aboard STS Young Endeavour is such an extraordinary thing to be part of.
“As Young Endeavour’s Sailmaster I have my regular Navy responsibilities as executive officer of a vessel – including administration, safety and crew wellbeing – but also have the unique challenge and responsibility of providing the youth of Australia an adventure of a lifetime.
“The Sailmaster runs the program so you have to know when to inject yourself, to push and challenge the youth crew, and when to give them a bit of space to deliver the best outcomes for each individual.
"It’s very much about leadership by example," he said.
During the voyage the crew spent 38 days at sea and sailed more than five thousand nautical miles from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Cadiz, Spain. In addition to ensuring the safe operation of the ship in conditions ranging from strong headwinds to the calm seas of the doldrums, the Navy staff were responsible for teaching the 24 youth on board – many who had never sailed before - the skills to crew the square-rigged tall ship.
Collectively, they ensured each participant spent at least 240 hours on the bridge, more than 80 hours on deck setting and furling sails, 40 hours cleaning the ship, four days assisting the chef in the galley, and many hours climbing the 30 metre masts, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and singing sea shanties.
“The staff crew are hand-picked, and are amazing,” said Lieutenant Commander Curtis.
“They give everything of themselves to each and every voyage, which makes it an awesome workplace.
"Because of the small numbers on board we each have increased responsibilities and rely on each other implicitly.
"It’s a great team environment."
The 24 youth who sailed Young Endeavour across the Atlantic Ocean were selected by ballot and represent every Australian state and territory. They number amongst more than 200 youth who will join one of nine voyage crews as Young Endeavour circumnavigates the world for the first time since 1992.
The voyage culminated in the youth crew electing their own captain and taking command of the square-rigged tall ship, successfully working together to safely navigate the ship and manage all routines while sailing 200 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
For Lieutenant Commander Curtis it was an unforgettable experience.
“I love adventuring, seeing and experiencing new things and travelling to rarely visited parts of the world,” he said.
“Sharing these experiences with an extraordinary Navy crew and a bunch of amazing young Australians has been incredible. Carpe Diem!”
The ship is on way to Gallipoli for Centenary of Anzac commemorations this week.