The power and the passion

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Lana Emery (author), ABIS Kayla Hayes (author)

High Voltage Manager, Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Alf Beinke, with the propulsion transformers onboard HMAS Choules. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
High Voltage Manager, Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Alf Beinke, with the propulsion transformers onboard HMAS Choules.

It was 1986 when young a Aaron Beinke first thought of joining the Navy; he joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Marine Technician and has never looked back.  

In the Navy, he might be reffered to as a 'lifer', a person who will stay in for life, but he hasn't ruled out a civilian job down the track just yet as he loves a certain spot in New South Wales.  

“I love the Central Coast," he said.

"Why would you want to live in a Sydney suburb when you can live in a holiday destination!  

"I now live on Wyong River and love leaving my boat tied up at my backyard over holidays and going out whenever I want - I love the peacefulness.”

It’s not surprising he joined the Defence Forces.  His great grandfather, George Printer, served in the Army in the First World War, his grandfather, Bill Printer, served in the Army in Papua New Guinea in the Second World War, his uncle, Brian Printer, served in Vietnam in the Army and received a unit citation for the Battle of Long Tan and his father served in the Korean War in the Army – so why didn’t he join the army?  Chief Petty Officer Beinke enjoys fishing and boating – he loves the water.  The Navy is the most suitable choice, and it has paid off.

As a Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician, and he is the High Voltage Manager onboard HMAS Choules.  Choules is a special ship for many reasons, but mainly because she and only one other ship (HMAS Canberra, a Landing Craft Heavy recently commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy)  is propelled using High Voltage powered steerable azimuth thrusters.  High Voltage refers to anything above 1000AC, or 1500DC, and Choules produces 6,600 Volts AC (which is 27.5 times the normal household voltage used domestically) coupled with IGBT converter technology in order to be able to control the speed and direction of two 4.4-Megawatt squirrel cage induction motors.

Chief Petty Officer Beinke manages the maintenance of these systems and more. Specifically he manages all the Low Voltage and the High Voltage power generation and distribution systems and the defect repair and maintenance of all the related equipment onboard. 

There is a lot of equipment and the ship has several power distribution systems. Choules is not a small Navy ship by any stretch of the imagination. Chief Petty Officer Beinke has a lot of responsibility resting on his shoulders, and safety his highest priority.

It has been an interesting career so far. He's visited the United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman, Seychelles, France, United Kingdom, Philippines, Guam, Saipan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, many of the South Pacific Islands, Hawaii, and New Zealand. His most memorable moment onboard HMAS Choules so far has been a surprise port visit to Singapore.

“I had a fantastic three year posting to Singapore accompanied by my family, and we were all sorry to leave in 2010. 

"I haven’t been there since 2011 and it was great to go back and catch up with some of the locals, enjoy a cold Tiger beer and once again savour the seafoods and curries of this culturally diverse country.”

But he is most looking forward to some much awaited rest and recreation when Choules gets back alongside Sydney Harbour:

“When I get the opportunity to take some leave later this year; I’ll get the boat back in the water ready to use with the family but in the mean time will probably crack on with some minor renovations on the weekends, whilst the ship is in home port.”