The 2013 Technical Champions of the Navy

Published on LEUT Lauren Rago (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Location(s): Garden Island, Sydney

Topic(s): Team Navy, Navy Engineering

Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Nathan Edwards races the clock to assemble the wing of a Kalkara unmanned Aerial Vehicle during the Royal Australian Navy Engineering Challenge held at the RAN Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Nathan Edwards races the clock to assemble the wing of a Kalkara unmanned Aerial Vehicle during the Royal Australian Navy Engineering Challenge held at the RAN Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney.

Some very talented Royal Australian Navy sailors showcased their extreme technical skills at the 2013 Navy Engineering Challenge finals at Garden Island, Sydney this week.

Marine, Electrical and Aviation Technicians competed for engineering glory with system fabrication, repairs and stripping machinery at lightening speed in front of a crowd of over 50 spectators from across the Fleet.

The finals ended the year long search for the Navy’s ‘Champion Technician’ which commenced in early 2013 with a series of regional competitions in each state.

The wining team for the Marine Technician Challenge was Fleet Support Unit - South East (FSU-SE) from Sydney. They competed against four other teams of four from Darwin, Cairns, HMAS Cerberus and HMAS Stirling. The challenge was to partially strip down and rebuild a diesel engine within a two hour time frame.

One of the FSU-SE teammates, Petty Officer Scott Giffin, said they team was ecstatic with their win.

“We achieved our personal best and completed the task within one hour and 15 minutes - we’re excited and worn out. The heart was racing.

“I think we won because of good procedures. Everyone knew their job and just did it. Beforehand we sat down together and had a good look at the Working Instruction so everyone knew what they had to do. It was very quiet on the site as we barely needed to talk to each other, only when we were passing tools,” said PO Giffin.

The Electronics Technician champion was the FSU West team from Stirling. They tested their mettle against five other teams of four in constructing an optical tracking and laser pointing system (including a ‘nerf’ gun) that required test, alignment, and performance demonstration.

One of the Electronics Technician teammates from the Cerberus team, Leading Seaman Kavanagh, said they decided to participate in the competition to enjoy something different and see if they could learn something.

“The hardest part of the task for us I think was the coding and programming as we’d never done anything like that before and had to learn from scratch,” said LS Kavanagh.

“It was a really good experience and we had a lot of fun. We got to build a nerf gun, you can't beat that.”

816 Squadron were the Aviation Technician winners after a close four and a half hour contest against 723 Squadron. Their challenges involved the repair and modification of airframes and electrical cabling, which required the blended skills of technicians working in concert. Scoring was based on a combination of adherence to repair techniques, including tolerances outlines in supplied structural repair instructions.

Chief of Navy launched the annual Navy Engineering challenge in June 2012 with the aim of promoting teamwork, skill-of-hand and job planning amongst the Navy’s technical sailors.

Director of the Engineering Challenge, Captain Mike Finlayson, said the new competition fosters the organisation’s engineering talent.

“The requirement for members to perform the challenges as a team reflects the Navy’s ethos of collective effort being greater than the sum of individual efforts.

“All of the regional winners and the champions are to be congratulated on the high professional standards they have displayed throughout the competition.

“Although there can be only one winner in each discipline, the bar has certainly been set for 2014,” said Captain Finlayson.

The 2013 finals winners are entitled to call themselves a ‘Champion Technician of the Navy’ and were presented individual medallions. They will also be eligible to wear a special cuff rate and will receive a significant prize of either an overseas training opportunity in 2014 or high quality tools of the trade, based on the team’s preference.

A special presentation of the ‘Honorary Technical Champion’ was made to Petty Officer Jeremy Younger, who developed the electronics kits and managed major elements the competition events.

The 2013 Engineering Challenge finals were held in conjunction with the exciting Team Navy annual event which included the presence of a Ford V8 vehicle and motorbike for onlookers to enjoy.

Team Navy was launched in 2011 as a partnership with Force Performance Racing (FPR). It provides a unique platform to inspire both internal and external audiences of the Navy through strategic alliances with highly performing organisations and teams in highly visible events such as the V8 Supercar Series.

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at