Behind the scenes at sea

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

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Supply Chain Hayden Eyles conducts a stores check for navigation lights onboard HMAS Choules. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Supply Chain Hayden Eyles conducts a stores check for navigation lights onboard HMAS Choules.

When people think of the crew of any ship, many may recall on the officers on the bridge, the boatswains on the lines or the stokers in the engine room but where would a ship go without the logistics department and sailors such as Able Seaman Maritime Logistics-Supply Chain Hayden Eyles.

Not only do they ensure that there are adequate medical supplies and clothing, but they are responsible for managing all ship's emergency engine parts as well.

Able Seaman Eyles grew up in East Ballina playing touch football and hockey for the local clubs and was a member of the Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club. He has many fond memories of his hometown, some being swimming at the lighthouse beach and walking along the North Wall. He attended school at Xavier Catholic College before undertaking the Navy’s Gap Year program which he describes as being the best decision he ever made.

“I would encourage anyone to do it, I would make the same choice today,” he said.

After completing the program he joined the Navy full-time, specialising as a logistician. He undertook extensive training over a 12 month period before being classed as proficient at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria and completing on the job training at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney.

In Sydney Able Seaman Eyles renewed a passion for Hockey which has lead him to represent the Australian Defence Force on several occasions.

“Playing against the New Zealand Navy team was a remarkable experience, including being lead goal scorer with a total of 14 goals within the tournament," he said.

“During my career I’ve also had the opportunity to represent the Navy to play cricket, touch football and rugby during competitions and international ‘friendlies’.”

Able Seaman Eyles is currently a part of the logistics department onboard HMAS Choules a 16,000 tonne ship, with 150 permanent crew.

He is responsible for ensuring Choules has the equipment and resources to maintain this capability at any time, which plays a significant part in the operational effectiveness of the broader Royal Australian Navy. One of the many roles of the ship is beign available to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief tasking. This role increases the complexity to the work conducted by the ship’s logistics department to ensure preparation for short notice tasks.

“Being a part of the logistics department is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have especially knowing that each day I play an important part in keeping the ship running.”

During his career Able Seaman Eyles has contributed to the success of Choules on operational service throughout Australian and international waters. He participated in Operation RENDER SAFE, in Bougainville, where the ship supported Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams removing remnants left from the Second World War. During the operation, over 100 sites were cleared which contained more than 160,000 kilograms of explosives.  For Able Seaman Eyles, having the opportunity to help the locals of Bougainville and celebrate mass with them has been a rewarding and memorable experience.

“Going ashore and meeting the locals whilst in Bougainville was a truly remarkable experience especially being able to personally witness their gratitude and listen to their stories,” he said.

Recently Able Seaman Eyles has been part of Exercise TALISMAN SABRE, a training exercise designed to test the interoperability of Australian and United States ships and gain awareness of the combined maritime capability. After spending time at sea, he is looking forward to returning home to spending time with his family and wife Jasmine.

“After a busy first half of the year at sea, I am looking forward to get back and have a meal at the Ballina RSL where I can catch up with old work friends and colleages,” he said.