Science degree just the ticket for survey work

Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), CPOB Tony Martin (author), CPOB Tony Martin (photographer)

Topic(s): Australian Hydrographic Service, HMAS Cairns, HMAS Mermaid (A02)

Able Seaman Nicola Kingdon conducting seamanship evolutions onboard HMAS Mermaid. (photo: CPOB Tony Martin)
Able Seaman Nicola Kingdon conducting seamanship evolutions onboard HMAS Mermaid.

Armed with a degree in environmental biology, Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Nicola Kingdon has put her training to full use as part of the survey team in HMAS Mermaid.

She completed a Bachelor of Science at Curtin University in Western Australia before joining the Royal Australian Navy in 2015.

Hydrographic system operators work aboard survey ships using sophisticated computer systems to collect data about the ocean and sea floor that is then used to produce and update nautical charts used by both the Navy and commercial shipping.

According to Able Seaman Kingdon, the applied science she covered in her degree has been highly relevant for her work on board Mermaid.

“Hydrography is close to what I studied so it’s been great to put my degree to good use,” said Able Seaman Kingdon, whose responsibilities also include seamanship and ship’s husbandry.

Her transition to the Navy was also made easy by having a family history of Navy service; father Simon serving in the FFG HMAS Adelaide, mother Sally served at Naval Air Station HMAS Albatross, while her great grandfather was in the Royal Navy.

Growing up in the small town of Pinjarra in Western Australia, Able Seaman Kingdon said she appreciated working as part of a close-knit team on Mermaid.

“I love the team mentality, the camaraderie as well as the mix of computer-based and physical work,” she said.

Mermaid, a survey motor launch, and her sister ships Paluma, Shepparton and Benalla along with hydrographic ships Leeuwin and Melville form the backbone of Australia’s national ocean-going hydrographic survey capability.

Operating out of Cairns in Far North Queensland, the survey motor launches contribute to the work required to make accurate nautical charts for Australian waters.