MV Sycamore trains Generation Next

This article has photo gallery Published on CMDR Karl Brinckmann (author), Mr Garry Vincent (photographer)

Topic(s): Australian Navy Cadets, EC-135T2, MV Sycamore

Australian Navy Cadets watch from the Helicopter Control Station as a EC135 helicopter lands on the flight deck of MV Sycamore. (photo: Mr Garry Vincent)
Australian Navy Cadets watch from the Helicopter Control Station as a EC135 helicopter lands on the flight deck of MV Sycamore.

As the new year began, the Royal Australian Navy’s multi-role aviation training vessel MV Sycamore was setting a course for the future, preparing for a big year of training the next generations of officers and sailors.

Trainee Helicopter Control Officers and Flight Deck Marshallers, Maritime Warfare Officers undergoing Phase III of their training and Australian Navy Cadets from the Waratah and Taipan Flotillas were all embarked in the training ship as she left Sydney Harbour earlier this year.

The Waratah Flotilla consists of Cadets from Training Ships in Sydney, southern New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, while the Taipan Flotilla consists of cadets from central and northern New South Wales.

The 27 Australian Navy Cadets, accompanied by six adult volunteers and four Flotilla Support Officers, joined Sycamore to experience life at sea and get a feel for the rewards and challenges that come with it.

For most of the Cadets, this was their first time at sea, with many of them wanting to join the Navy across a variety of employment categories.

Almost all of the Cadets agreed that the highlight of their voyage in Sycamore was watching the EC135 helicopters land on the flight deck from their high vantage point in the ship’s Helicopter Control Station.

Officer of Cadets, Lieutenant John Huisman said the Cadets thoroughly enjoyed their time on the Navy training ship.

“Other highlights included carrying out watch duties, taking the helm, and participating in crash boat and life raft drills,” he said.

It was a family affair for the Bergquist family with sister and brother duo Cadet Petty Officer Stephanie Bergquist and Cadet Leading Seaman Matthew Bergquist embarked.

For both Bergquists, it was likely to be their last experience at sea as Cadets, with both on a course to transition into the Royal Australian Navy in 2019.

Matthew is scheduled to join HMAS Cerberus mid-year as a recruit Communications and Information Systems sailor, while Stephanie intends to join later this year and used the week in Sycamore to help determine her preferred job category.

While they were on board, Sycamore completed multiple day and night flying sorties with the EC135 helicopter, in support of 723 Squadron aviation training. 

While Stephanie cited watching the helicopter operations as the highlight of her voyage, Matthew most enjoyed the opportunities to take part in on-water evolutions.

“I really enjoyed going around in the RHIBs (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) and I’m excited about joining the Navy in the middle of the year,” he said.

The ship also completed various navigation activities for the Maritime Warfare Officer Phase III trainees, who were ably assisted by the Cadets who acted as helmsmen, lookouts and upper deck general duties personnel. 

The three Maritime Warfare Officer trainees were all embarked as part of a pilot program whereby mariners from Teekay Shipping train each Phase III for approximately two weeks at sea and alongside. 

Teekay Shipping is the company that operates Sycamore on behalf of Navy, and the training they provide for the Phase III Maritime Warfare Officers is focussed on coastal navigation and seamanship. It also aims to provide trainees with more exposure to flying operations in order to better prepare them for their Fleet Boards and more advanced training. 

Given the skill and enthusiasm shown by the Cadets and trainees during their time in Sycamore, the future looks bright for the Royal Australian Navy.