Underway and all smiles

Published on LEUT Emily Kennedy (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Christopher Boehm and Chief Petty Officer Jim Soar check procedures in the Aft Engine Room as HMAS Canberra prepares to sail from Fleet Base East, Sydney. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Leading Seaman Marine Technician Christopher Boehm and Chief Petty Officer Jim Soar check procedures in the Aft Engine Room as HMAS Canberra prepares to sail from Fleet Base East, Sydney.

There was a quiet and controlled buzz of excitement throughout HMAS Canberra as the 400 strong ship’s company prepared her for sailing for the first time in December.

The heart of the ship, the Central Control Station was busy with engineering teams moving with purpose as they conducted their final ready for sea checks.

Canberra departed the wharf with one diesel generator and her gas turbine online with powers two large azimuth pods providing propulsion and steering to the 27,500 tonne ship. The bow thrusters completed the engineering suite which enabled Canberra to manoeuvre off the wharf safely.

Petty Officer Darren Jay was the Marine Systems Manager on-watch in the Central Control Station for the departure.

“The Marine Systems Managers onboard are responsible for the engineering plant while at sea and I was very proud to be the person in that role as we took the ship off the wharf for the very first time,” said Petty Officer Jay.

“I think the whole engineering department is extremely happy with what we have achieved, it’s been a big job getting to where we are and everyone has a right to feel good about the work that’s been done,” he said.

Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Suzie Bishop said she was impressed with the efforts of her team.

“The Engineering team has had range challenges and priorities to juggle, particularly when the ship’s company moved onboard and all the systems such as water, sewage and air conditioning went into full swing,” Lieutenant Commander Bishop said.

“The departure and subsequent time at sea has been the next step in the learning journey. They are enthusiastic and eager to continue to strengthen their knowledge of the systems and equipment.

“I am proud of their continued achievements,” she said.

There was also a mixture of excitement and and anticipation on the bridge. 

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Troy Russell relays information from the Aft Engine Room to the Central Control Station as HMAS Canberra prepares to sail from Sydney Harbour.

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Troy Russell relays information from the Aft Engine Room to the Central Control Station as HMAS Canberra prepares to sail from Sydney Harbour.

Navigating Officer Lieutenant Commander Calvin Johnson said that the departure went well.

“Understandably there were a few nerves but we trained very hard for this day and it really paid off as today was a great success,” Lieutenant Commander Johnson said.

“There are always challenges with bringing into service a new class of ship, particularly being the Navigator because you need to learn how to use the ship in the first instance,” he said.

Lieutenant Commander Johnson said it was a great experience.

“The highlight of the day would be being the first Navigator to bring Canberra off the wharf, it was pretty fantastic,” he said.

A ship relies on every department working in unison to make an activity such as leaving the wharf successful. The personnel working the huge lines that hold the ship to the wharf had an important role to play.

Leading Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Corey Pickett was stationed at the Forward Mooring Station which is a large area where the forward lines are worked.

“My role is to clutch in and out the large drums which hold the lines to the ship,” said Leading Seaman Pickett.

“The sheer size and technology of the Landing Helicopter Dock is the biggest difference compared to other ships I have been on.

“Surprisingly, less people are required to work the lines due to the warping drums doing most of the heavy work,” he said.

The ship has recently undergone a range of seamanship evolutions with Sea Training Group embarked. These training evolutions included man overboard, anchorage, sea boat drills, and securing and slipping from a buoy.

Canberra achieved all competencies for Mariner Skills Evaluation in preparation for first of class trials.