Lieutenant Commander Lauren Milburn has enjoyed her first year as the Maritime Surveillance Adviser (MSA) in Micronesia.
Lieutenant Commander Milburn said it was a privilege to live and work in Micronesia alongside the National Police Maritime Wing, where she assists them to enhance their maritime surveillance capability.
“It is a dynamic role and I love the opportunity to work across multiple agencies, including DFAT, Defence and the Micronesia government,” she said.
“It’s great to be able to bring a different lens to the role with my background and gender and certainly, at a time when their Government is enthusiastic, to grow its participation of women in the maritime wing workforce.”
Lieutenant Commander Milburn has served as an MWO and AVWO, and worked with Director Navy Leadership and Culture Development during her career.
Under the new Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP), existing Pacific class patrol boats are being replaced by the more capable Guardian class. These vessels also provide improved berthing arrangements to better accommodate women at sea.
Lieutenant Commander Milburn said Micronesia’s Police Maritime Wing has three women serving at sea, and one woman specialising in operations room support.
“The nation is keen to recruit more women. I hope to be able to assist in achieving this goal, including efforts to ensure female officers are supported by workplace policies and provided with mentoring and other forms of support as needed,” she said.
Lieutenant Commander Milburn is accompanied by her husband and young children on the island of Pohnpei.
“It is a wonderful cultural experience for our family, and we are very much enjoying building relationships and experiencing the incredible beauty of Micronesia’s precious marine environment,” she said.
The year has also presented challenges for Lieutenant Commander Milburn, when her husband, Adam Milburn, a former clearance diving officer, was on board the Air Niugini flight that crashed into Chuuk Lagoon and sank on 28 September.
She said it was an interesting and surreal experience.
“Both having to deal with my husband being on board that flight and responding to that personally, but also having a degree of responsibility in the reaction and response of the Maritime Wing to that accident,” she said.
Micronesia has three Pacific patrol boats, FSS Palikir, FSS Micronesia and FSS Independence, as well as FSS Unity, a 16m patrol craft gifted by the Nippon Foundation through the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
In 2022, Micronesia will receive two new patrol boats that will be further supported by the PMSP Aerial Surveillance Program.