From Darwin to Canberra

Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author and photographer)

Assistant Maritime Logistics Officer, Sub Lieutenant Melanie Soares, in the bulk storeroom onboard HMAS Canberra. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Assistant Maritime Logistics Officer, Sub Lieutenant Melanie Soares, in the bulk storeroom onboard HMAS Canberra.

When Sub Lieutenant Melanie Soares left Darwin High School she was looking for a career that would challenge her and since joining the Royal Australian Navy she hasn’t looked back.
Sub Lieutenant Soares completed a business degree at the Australian Defence Force Academy before becoming a Maritime Logistics Officer. She is now posted to the Navy’s largest and newest ship, HMAS Canberra.

Commissioned in November 2014, Canberra is the first of two Landing Helicopter Docks to be introduced to Navy. The ship has a crew of 400 and is capable of embarking over 1,000 troops and their cargo that can be landed ashore by helicopters or state of the art landing craft.
“Onboard Canberra I’m the Assistant Maritime Logistics Officer,” Sub Lieutenant Soares said.
“I look after the logistic state of the ship including food, stores, official hospitality and the ship’s budget.
“I also assist in managing the Maritime Logistics Division made up of the 65 logistics personnel onboard the ship.”

Sub Lieutenant Soares has had many great opportunities in her naval career. She was chosen for an exchange with the United States Navy and also participated in overseas exercise with Australian Clearance Divers.

“The best aspect of my job is that no day is the same,” she said.

“I am never bored and am constantly challenged in my role.

“Since joining the Navy I have been amazed at the lengths I have been able to push myself and by what I have been able to achieve.”

Sub Lieutenant Soares said the highlight of her posting onboard Canberra so far was the commissioning of the ship.

“Commissioning is something that I will be able to look back and reflect on throughout my entire career,” she said.

Canberra was stationed between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Australia Day as the centrepiece for the Salute to Australia at midday.

Canberra will sail to commence First of Class Trials during the first quarter of this year followed by a work-up cycle which will extend across all her capabilities.

A second ship in the class, NUSHIP Adelaide is under construction at the BAE Systems dockyard in Williamstown, Victoria. These 27,000 tonne ships are the largest vessels ever constructed for the Navy and are capable of providing the Australian Defence Force with one of the most sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.

The ships are capable of complex amphibious operations and support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.