Don't mind the gap year

Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), CPOIS Damian Pawlenko (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

Topic(s): Recruit School, HMAS Cerberus, Navy Gap Year

Seaman Combat Systems Operator Zachary Davis at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.  (photo: CPOIS Damian Pawlenko)
Seaman Combat Systems Operator Zachary Davis at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.

Navy’s ‘try before you buy’ program provided experiences a lifetime which are now the basis for a career in electronic warfare for one sailor.

Seaman Combat Systems Operator Zachary Davis, nominated for the Navy Gap Year - the 12 months training and lifestyle alternative to other school leaver options.

The electronic warfare trainee based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia said that the year had offered challenging workplace experiences within various Navy career streams.

“I joined the Gap Year program in 2016 which provided me with experiences and skills that will benefit me in my career and personal life,” Seaman Davis said.

“My training started at Recruit School HMAS Cerberus - where I was required to pass the same level of training over an 11 week course as all permanent Navy recruits prior to continuing with the program.

“Fit for service after graduating, I posted to HMAS Albatross where I understudied the birdies at the home of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Air Arm - who provide vital air support to the Fleet.

“My time with the four squadrons and the AS350 Squirrel and Seahawk helicopters has inspired me to transfer to aircrew in the future and perhaps even commission and become a pilot. 

During the Gap Year Seaman Davis went from Fleet Air Arm to the largest ship ever built for the Royal Australian Navy, amphibious assault ship, HMAS Adelaide.

“I participated in Exercise KAKADU as part of the 19 ships and submarines from many participating nations,” he said.

Adelaide is one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world – a privilege to serve on such a platform.”

But now he is training in an exciting and purposeful career creating a tactical picture by identifying ‘hostile or friendly’ ships over the horizon.

“My new career comes with challenges like acquiring new skills in a short amount of time and being on the other side of Australia to my family.

“Navy lifestyle on the base involves team sport including touch rugby, gym and volleyball - not forgetting exploring the local area.

“Currently my job satisfaction is high due to opportunities given in the various Navy areas, I wish to experience as much as possible and make this a lifelong career,” he said.