Finland export tastes Navy life on RIMPAC

Published on LCDR Dave Knight (author), LSIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Honolulu

Seaman Boatswains Mate Taija Vaisanen aboard HMAS Warramunga during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.  (photo: LSIS Tom Gibson)
Seaman Boatswains Mate Taija Vaisanen aboard HMAS Warramunga during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.

Seven months ago Finnish expatriate Taija Vaisanen chased a life’s dream and joined the Royal Australian Navy; and more recently she found herself off the coast of Hawaii on board the Anzac Class frigate, HMAS Warramunga.

Seaman Boatswains Mate Vaisanen, 33, is one of HMAS Warramunga’s newest crew members, having joined the ship on completion of her training at HMAS Cerberus.

She is now taking her place as one of 25,000 personnel from 26 countries deployed to the world’s largest maritime exercise which is now in its final phase of complex war games off the coast of Hawaii.

“I grew up in Lahti, Finland which is approximately 100 kilometres north east of Helsinki,” Seaman Vaisanen said.

“I initially travelled to Australia in 2007 and enjoyed the country so much that I relocated to Newcastle, New South Wales and in 2016 joined the Royal Australian Navy."

“Joining the Navy is something I have always dreamed of doing since moving to Australia eight years ago."

“I am enjoying RIMPAC and I could not have asked for a more exciting sea posting," she said.

She is enjoying her time on board Warramunga, broadening her experience at sea while also undertaking a variety of seamanship roles on board including bridge lookout, helmsman training, and seamanship evolutions.

Seaman Vaisanen said she moved to the United Kingdom after graduating, to work with show jumping horses as she always had a passion for horse riding and spent her youth learning to ride and groom horses.

On completion of high school she spent three years studying at Ypäjä Equine College, Finland, one of Europe's largest vocational equine institutes.

Seaman Vaisanen said she is looking forward to the rest of her posting on board Warramunga, and on completion of her time on board she hopes to get some experience on Major Fleet unit with a longer term goal of being posted to an Armidale Class Patrol Boat.

HMAS Warramunga is conducting live-fire activities including launching an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, anti-submarine serials and other maritime activities to combine capabilities with international partners.

It will also use its embarked MH-60R Sea Hawk for anti-submarine and maritime aviation activities as part of the Expeditionary Strike Group that includes HMAS Canberra and American ships USS America and USS San Diego.