Two Spanish-speaking Australian midshipmen have spent the last three months taking part in training, exercises and navigating around Australia on board the Spanish Armada’s frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón.
Midshipmen Ramon Sarmiento and Owen Snell are undertaking their Junior Warfare Application Course which is continuing on Australian ships as the Cristóbal Colón, which has the same design as the Royal Australian Navy’s new guided missile destroyers, has headed home to Spain.
“Being able to work as part of a crew so familiar with our new destroyer design has been amazing,” Midshipman Snell said.
“Seeing how the ship operates is a real benefit to our training and developing relationships with other navies.”
They have been mentored further by two members of the future crew of the first destroyer, Hobart who have also spent time on Cristóbal Colón.
Midshipman Sarmiento said that Lieutenant Matthew Stobo and Sub Lieutenant Adam Piotrowski were especially helpful regarding procedures on Australian ships.
“Lieutenant Stobo has been instrumental in steering us in the right direction as future officers of the watch,” Midshipman Sarmiento said.
“Sub Lieutenant Piotrowski provided us with support and assistance in what is required of new officers aboard the ship.
“This insight is invaluable,” he said.
In the spirit of international relationship building, the Spanish crew, with the assistance of Lieutenant Chris Thornton, a Royal Australian Navy Liaison Officer, have been overseeing much of the program of study, watchkeeping and taskbook completion that are all part of their training.
Their many bridge hours undertaking officer of the watch duties on a similar ship for what is to be the most advanced new platform to enter the Royal Australian Navy have certainly impressed the two men.
“This experience has opened my eyes to some different career options. Hopefully future maritime warfare officers can grasp opportunities like this to help them decide on which path to take in their naval careers,” Midshipman Sarmiento said.
“Submarines were my first career choice when I joined. I’d still like to serve in them, but I am keen to spend more time with the surface fleet as a result of this unique experience.”
Midshipman Snell said his career thoughts had also changed.
“I originally wanted to post to a hydrographic ship coming into the Navy, but now I have spent time on Cristóbal Colón, I am thinking more about the opportunity of serving on a warship,” Midshipman Snell said.
There has been no rest for the two midshipmen since Cristóbal Colón departed.
They will need to finish their sea time with the fleet before heading into their next phase of training at HMAS Watson in Sydney.