Up for the challenge

Published on LCDR Julian Brett (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Sea Training Groups Fleet Executive Officer, Commander Darron Rowe RAN, briefs HMAS Melbourne's Ships Company prior to sailing for week one of the ships Unit Readiness Evaluation. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Sea Training Groups Fleet Executive Officer, Commander Darron Rowe RAN, briefs HMAS Melbourne's Ships Company prior to sailing for week one of the ships Unit Readiness Evaluation.

Early morning on 19 January, HMAS Melbourne’s Commanding Officer, Commander William Waters mustered his crew on the flight deck in anticipation of a testing day.

Navy's sea-going standards team, Sea Training Group, were due to arrive to put the ship's company through their paces after five weeks of dedicated training preparing Melbourne for peacetime operation in Australia and overseas. 

Sea Training Group embarked 30 subject matter experts across all maritime disciplines; from engineering to cooking and navigation to aviation.  

"There will be no other time in your navy career when you will receive better training than now," Commander Waters said.

From left, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator (CSO) Mandy Collie, Seaman CSO Malcom Drakeford and  Leading Seaman CSO Tara Longley secure lines as HMAS Melbourne departs Fleet Base East for week one of its Unit Readiness Evaluation.

From left, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator (CSO) Mandy Collie, Seaman CSO Malcom Drakeford and Leading Seaman CSO Tara Longley secure lines as HMAS Melbourne departs Fleet Base East for week one of its Unit Readiness Evaluation.

"Thirty experts just for our training as a ship. Embrace the challenge.

“To be successful you need to take on everything you do with some mongrel and help your mate," he said.

"We are in this together and we need to look after one another - It will be a challenging experience but we have worked hard to be here and we are ready - Get stuck in and be part of the successes that are coming to us." 

Sea Training Group's Fleet Executive Officer, Commander Darron Rowe, shared his keys to success.

"Be brilliant at the basics; the standard you walk past is the standard you accept," he said.

"Three things are important - teamwork, wholeship, ownership.

“Apply these principles and your Unit Readiness Workup and Evaluation will be successful,” Commander Rowe said.

Once dismissed the Melbourne ship’s company readied the ship for departure from Sydney’s Fleet Base East and braced for the forthcoming challenge. 

As the one of Melbourne newest sailors, Seaman Combat System Operator Rebecca Surman said that sleeping on the ship for the first time was definitely an adjustment. 

"I’m looking forward to finding out the bigger picture and also learning what it takes to be an effective member of ship's company," she said. 

This was Seaman Surman’s first sea posting since completing her basic Combat Systems Operator training. 

Melbourne and her crew were up for the challenge, in the spirit of the ship's motto, 'vires acquirit eundo' (she gathers strength as she goes).