Harman sailor’s badges of honour restore a sense of pride

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Gordon Carr-Gregg (author), POIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Harman, Naval Heritage and History

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Nicole Marotzek holds a newly refurbished ship's badge and an older ship's badge, at HMAS Harman, ACT. (photo: POIS Bradley Darvill)
Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Nicole Marotzek holds a newly refurbished ship's badge and an older ship's badge, at HMAS Harman, ACT.

Upon noticing that the Navy signage aboard HMAS Harman was becoming weathered and worn, Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Nicole Marotzek has used a lull in Navy Brand operations to put her skills to work in revitalising the unit badges.

Her Divisional Officer and Navy Brand Manager Lieutenant Ben Robson was surprised when Nicole offered to do the work.

“I'm really proud of the way Nicole has taken the initiative to make Harman a better environment for everyone,” Lieutenant Robson said.

“It's interesting to see all the skills that Boatswains have, beyond the seamanship duties you expect.

“But it's also really impressive to see those skills expressed artistically, and executed with a real sense of passion for Navy and her own work,” he said.

Lieutenant Robson said the role of the Navy Brand team was to enhance the image and professionalism of Navy in different ways.

“It is made easy when building upon the rich visual heritage of the existing iconography, such as these base crests and badges,” he said.

Leading Seaman Marotzek said her pride in Navy inspired her to volunteer her services to do the work.

“When working at Harman I would drive past the deteriorating plaques at the front gates and think about how they made the base look dingy and dilapidated, at odds with the ongoing renovations and great facilities inside. It affected my pride in Navy,” she said.

“So many people drive past those gates every day, many of whom I was sure felt the same way, so I took it upon myself to see how I could do something about it.

“I got some advice from family members who are wizards at restoration, who told me which paints would stand the test of time in the varied Canberra weather.”

“I found the technical aspect sometimes difficult - hand painting these with the intricately fine detail on them could take upwards of 50 hours a plaque. And I ended up finding quite a few of these badges on base that needed some love.”

“The cool thing about removing these plaques from their prominent positions is sometimes finding little notes on the rear - some of which date back almost 70 years.”

“They are kind of a time capsule in their own right, part of our heritage and a form of history that I get to participate in,” she said.

HMAS Harman’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Katey D’Costa was thrilled at the result.

“Leading Seaman Marotzek has gone above and beyond by giving of her own time to revitalize the ship’s badges around Harman,” she said.

“These badges are a reminder of the historical significance of HMAS Harman to Navy - Harman has been the heart of the maritime communications capability since 1943.”

Harman continues to grow and function as a vital Defence enabler to this day, which is apparent by looking at the ship’s crest - the globe and Australia’s place in the world.”

“The refurbishment of these badges is no small task and the quality of her work will have a lasting impact for decades to come.”

“Leading Seaman Marotzek’s initiative to undertake this work shows a strong sense of pride in Navy, and displays a high level of professionalism as a Boatswains Mate.

“She has already inspired others to look for ways to contribute to Navy, whatever their talent, interest or skill-set,” Lieutenant Commander D’Costa said.