From Terrigal to Tobruk for Ben

Published on LAC David Cotton (photographer)

Topic(s): Exercise PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP, HMAS Tobruk (II)

Able Seaman Marine Technician Ben Read working inside the main machinery space of HMAS Tobruk. (photo: LAC David Cotton)
Able Seaman Marine Technician Ben Read working inside the main machinery space of HMAS Tobruk.

For Terrigal native Ben Read, the past five years in the Royal Australian Navy have provided training, travel and direction.

Ben, 23, has already served five years in the Royal Australian Navy with most of his career spent on HMAS Tobruk where he is currently posted.

Ben is currently deployed to Papua New Guinea for PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2013, a humanitarian and civic assistance mission to the townships of Wewak and Vanimo.

It comes after previous port visits in Asia and New Zealand during his Naval career.

“I was looking for direction when I was 17,” he said.

“At the same time I wanted to get a trade, have job security, travel and experience the mateship and laughs that you hear about in the Defence Force.”

After graduating from St Edwards College in Gosford, Ben joined the Navy as a Marine Technician, going through his recruit course and trade training at HMAS Cerberus.

“I have a Certificate IV in Marine Engineering which I studied through the Navy,” Ben said.

“My current qualifications are in line with those of a civilian diesel fitter and I’d like to go further and earn a Diploma of Marine Engineering.”

As a Marine Technician Ben is responsible for keeping Tobruk’s mechanical parts functioning including the diesel generators, main engine and auxiliary components.

“My role could be described as the eyes of the Machinery Control Room.”

“If the control room is the ears hearing alerts in the engine spaces, then I’m the one checking them out reporting back the situation.”

Tobruk is deployed with more than 320 personnel to provide medical, dental, environmental health, veterinary and engineering assistance in Wewak and Vanimo.

This is Ben’s second deployment for PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP and although not part of the embarked contingent, he has been one of many of Tobruk’s crew to volunteer ashore at Wewak Hospital, servicing ambulances and repairing a fire truck at Wewak Fire Station.

“It was good to see how the people here live and to help them out where possible,” he said.

Ben will return to Sydney with Tobruk in late July and is hoping to return to Terrigal to visit his mother Marie.

In addition to Tobruk’s deployment to Papua New Guinea, USS Pearl Harbor of the United States Navy will deploy to Samoa, Tonga and the Marshall Islands while HMZNS Canterbury will provide aid to Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

JDS Yamagiri of the Japanese Self Defence Force will provide 20 personnel and a Seahawk helicopter in Papua New Guinea.