Career change is the pits for Able Seaman

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author), LEUT Ben Willee (author), LCDR Don Hogarth (photographer)

Topic(s): Helicopters, HMAS Adelaide (L01), HMAS Ballarat (F155), Team Navy, Industry Outplacement Program, V8 Supercars, Training Authority - Aviation

Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Tenae Drummond with the Pro Drive race car in Townsville. (photo: LCDR Don Hogarth)
Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Tenae Drummond with the Pro Drive race car in Townsville.

The Royal Australian Navy has taken Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Tenae Drummond across the world.
Now a personal passion for motorsports and a keen interest in furthering her skills as an Aviation Technician Aircraft is fuelling her latest career endeavour with Team Navy and Prodrive Racing Australia.
Able Seaman Drummond is one of three technical sailors spending a year with Prodrive, contributing to an active race crew while also learning new skills to take back into the Navy.
Albury-raised Able Seaman Drummond was surrounded by avid racing fans at home as a child.
“My family was always really into motorsports when I was growing up,” she said.
“Brad Jones Racing is based in Albury, which was a pretty big deal in a rural town and meant we were always exposed to the sport.”
Following in the footsteps of her brother Shane, Able Seaman Drummond joined the Navy in 2007 and has spent time with 725 and 816 Squadrons, as well as deploying to the Middle East in 2011 and spending a year training in Florida in 2013.
It was while at sea last year in HMAS Ballarat that she decided to pair her interest in motorsports with the unique experience Team Navy could offer.
“I’d heard of this program through the grapevine and I wanted to be part of a professional racing team and bring something back to my regular job,” she said.
“We were at sea when I found out I met the prerequisites to apply for 2017.
“I only had a week to get my application in so knocked it over as quick as I could.”
She has been working hard creating composite parts for powerful V8 engines at Prodrive’s workshop in Melbourne.
The opportunity to mould and cure her own parts in an industrial autoclave has been highly rewarding for Able Seaman Drummond.
“Seeing news coverage of races and cars perform with composites that I made is rewarding and I’m excited to be able to do this again when I go back to working on airframes.”
Able Seaman Drummond has found working in a high-paced racing crew has paralleled her busy life as sailor.
Teamwork and attention to detail are essential parts of life in the Navy and her experiences have made her more adaptable during an intense year of races around Australia.
“The professionalism and teamwork required in the Navy and in a racing team are no different - ‘Without them nothing gets done’,” she said.
“Timing at sea and during a race must be precise to make sure the logistics, moving parts and people work together seamlessly.”
Personal fitness and a mind for safety are also key parts of life in the Australian Defence Force that have benefited Team Navy and Prodrive.
“Safety and fitness are part of everything we do in the Navy,” Able Seaman Drummond said.
“It comes naturally and we don’t let our standards slip in the workshop nor on the track on race day.”
“We can go through dozens of parts during one race event and they need to be carried to the pit lane quickly and safely.
“The Team Navy guys have found these some of the easiest challenges to overcome.”
With the current members of Team Navy halfway through their year at Prodrive, Able Seaman Drummond is in the swing of a demanding race season following major V8 events in Darwin and Perth.
While the season has been a great learning experience so far, travelling for each race means Able Seaman Drummond is always looking for chances to spend time with her husband Brenton, who is also an Aircraft Technician in amphibious ship, HMAS Adelaide.
“Finding weekends to see each other can be tricky but we take the opportunities when we can.”
“We have races coming up later this year in Townsville, the Gold Coast and New Zealand so I’ll be pretty flat out.”
Able Seaman Drummond will return to the fleet in early 2018 and is looking forward to bringing her new talents back to the Navy on either Romeo Seahawk or Taipan helicopters.
“I’m eager to play a role in developing Navy’s capability in making our own composite aircraft parts,” she said.
“I’d recommend the program to any technical sailor wanting a unique career challenge or expand their abilities.”
Team Navy’s involvement with Prodrive Racing Australia commenced in 2012 and was recently extended until 2021.
Able Seaman Drummond is joined on Team Navy by Leading Seaman Marine Technician Jeremy Rutnik and Able Seaman Electronics Technician Mark Richards.