A glimpse at Navy’s largest ship’s company

Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author and photographer), POIS Ollie Garside (photographer), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base East, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02)

Ship's company of NUSHIP Canberra assemble at Garden Island, Sydney, for a briefing by Commanding Officer Captain Jonathan Sadleir, immediately after the ship arrived alongside Fleet Base East. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Ship's company of NUSHIP Canberra assemble at Garden Island, Sydney, for a briefing by Commanding Officer Captain Jonathan Sadleir, immediately after the ship arrived alongside Fleet Base East.

So what does the Navy’s largest ship’s company in 30 years look like? NUSHIP Canberra ship’s company totals 375 people and can boast many firsts.

The first Aviation Support sailors posted to a sea going vessel, the first photographers to be permanent members of a crew since the 1980s and the first Army chefs to be posted to a Navy ship’s company.

With that many people, getting the right name can become a problem. There are 12 people called Andrew, 13 Matthews and six with the last name of Martin. Oddly there are only two Smiths, one Jones and no Browns.

The average age of the crew is 31. The longest serving member has completed 34 years continuous service in the Navy and the youngest is just 19 years old.

There are numerous countries of birth including England, India, New Zealand, Burma and Canada.

Women make up ten per cent of the crew and are in positions such as Marine Engineering Officer and Deputy Marine Engineering Officer.

The job of keeping this diverse group of people working well together falls to the Ship’s Warrant Officer (SWO).

Leading Seaman Charanpreet Anand with Warrant Officer Jeff Argoon (Ships Warrant Officer) taking time out supporting the Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

Leading Seaman Charanpreet Anand with Warrant Officer Jeff Argoon (Ships Warrant Officer) taking time out supporting the Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

Canberra’s SWO, Warrant Officer Jeff Argoon has completed 34 years in the Navy and as the senior non-commissioned officer onboard, his main role is to be the pivotal link between the sailors and officers.

“The SWO is a mentor to both sailors and officers demonstrating good leadership and discipline along with setting a superior example in dress and bearing,” Warrant Officer Argoon said.

“I also ensure the promotion of and adherence to Navy Values, while promoting Navy ethos, customs, traditions and values that underpin the Navy’s reputation.

“One of my biggest challenges will be getting around the ship on a daily basis to talk to the members of ship’s company due to the size of the ship,” he said.

The largest ship ever built for the Royal Australian Navy, Landing Helicopter Dock NUSHIP Canberra, passes through Sydney Heads for the first time.

The largest ship ever built for the Royal Australian Navy, Landing Helicopter Dock NUSHIP Canberra, passes through Sydney Heads for the first time.

Warrant Officer Argoon said Canberra’s ship’s company is a hard working and reliable team who have managed to create a Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ethos from nothing.

“Their dedication to training on the new class of ship and equipment has been outstanding as well as their capacity to manage change,” he said.

Currently more than 90 per cent of the roles available in the Navy are represented onboard Canberra. Once the ship is fully operational, every category in the Navy will have a role onboard the LHD.