Air Force no match for the lure of the sea

Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author and photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, NSW

Seaman Marine Technician Patrick Reidlinger in the Aft Main Engine Room onboard HMAS Canberra. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Seaman Marine Technician Patrick Reidlinger in the Aft Main Engine Room onboard HMAS Canberra.

This Australia Day, Seaman Marine Technician Patrick Reidlinger reflects on his career in the Navy, which has led him to a posting to the Navy’s newest and largest ship which will be a centrepiece of Australia Day celebrations on Sydney harbour this year.
He comes from a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) family but Ipswich boy, Patrick Reidlinger decided he was more interested in a career on the water rather than in the skies.
After finishing High School at St Edmund’s College, Patrick started an engineering degree but soon decided university wasn’t for him so he explored his career options with the Defence Force.
“My father and his father were both in the RAAF and encouraged me to consider that as a job opportunity,” Patrick said.
“I originally wanted to join the Air Force as an Aircraft Technician but after seeing some of the other technical jobs offered, I decided that being a Marine Technician was a good opportunity to gain some technical skill while giving me a chance to travel and put myself outside of my comfort zone.”
So he joined the Navy in 2013 at the age of 21 and on completion of his technical training at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, Patrick was posted to Fleet Support Unit at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney.

“I only spent a month at the Support Unit before I secured a training billet on then NUSHIP Canberra,” Patrick said.

Commissioned as HMAS Canberra in November 2014, Canberra is the first of two Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) 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.

“I'm a member of the Hull section on the ship,” Seaman Reidlinger said.
“My section maintains and operates the refrigeration and air conditioning plant, the sewerage treatment plant, the ship’s hydraulic doors and the damage control equipment.
“When I'm not assisting in the maintenance of this equipment I am training to become an operator, keeping watch over the ship’s systems and checking running machinery.”

Patrick counts his work mates and the camaraderie they share as one of the best parts of his job.

“Bad days at work are much better if you have a bunch of mates to share it with,” Seaman Reidlinger said.
“I live in service accommodation and it is pretty cool knowing that a lot of your workmates are only just next door.”

Seaman Reidlinger said the most challenging aspect of his job is all the training involved and learning all the ship’s technical systems.
“I really enjoy helping people out and take pride in the jobs that I do, but I'm not a particularly organised or proactive person with regards to my personal work,” Seaman Reidlinger said.
“This year I am going to focus on progressing my own skill set and completing my competencies.”

The recent commissioning was a highlight for Seaman Reidlinger and he really enjoyed showing his family over the ship.

 “It was great to give them some insight into what I actually do on a day to day basis and what serving on a Navy ship is like,” he said.
“My father who was formerly an Air Force technician, was particularly excited to see all the technology we have onboard.”

Over the Christmas period Seaman Reidlinger was able to return to Queensland and see some of his family.

“My older brother recently started a family and it was awesome to see him in action as a dad and family man, as well as spending time with my new nephew,” he said.
Canberra will be stationed between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge this Australia Day and be the centrepiece for the Salute to Australia at midday.

Following her role in Australia Day celebrations, 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.
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 LHD is capable of complex amphibious operations and support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.