King Island to a floating city

Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

HMAS Canberra's Marine Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Suzie Bishop stands in the Central Control Station onboard. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
HMAS Canberra's Marine Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Suzie Bishop stands in the Central Control Station onboard.

King Island local, Suzie Bishop joined the Navy with the view of getting a qualification and then moving on as soon as she could, 16 years later she is still there.

She had aspirations to join the Navy from an early age and saw it as a great way to get an education without relying on her parents to finance it.

“My plan was to join, get a qualification, gain a little experience and then look at moving into the cruise ship industry to see more of the world,” she said.

“I even planned to move on to tug boats when I retired but I’m still yet to move on from part one.

“I said I’d stay while I was still having fun – and I’m still here.”

 Suzie is now a Lieutenant Commander leading a team of 85 people as Marine Engineering Officer in the Navy’s largest and newest ship, HMAS Canberra.

Commissioned in November 2014, Canberra is the first of two Landing Helicopter Docks to be introduced to Navy. The ship has a crew of 400 and is capable of embarking over 1,000 troops and their cargo that can be landed ashore by helicopters or state of the art landing craft.

Lieutenant Commander Bishop is responsible for overseeing the operation and maintenance of all the machinery onboard from the two diesel generators and one LM2500 gas turbine which together have the capacity to produce over 34,000 kw of power to the making of fresh water for consumption by ship’s company.

“One of the highlights of my posting so far has been seeing the Marine Engineering Department rise to the challenge of taking ownership of the vessel,” Lieutenant Commander Bishop said.

“Learning the systems and the nuances of the machinery to deliver the capability to Command has been challenging but I’m very proud of the department’s achievements.”

HMAS Canberra will visit Hobart over the Anzac Day long weekend and Lieutenant Commander Bishop is looking forward to seeing some friends.

“Hobart is an awesome port visit and it’ll be great to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time."

A second Landing Helicopter Dock, NUSHIP Adelaide is under construction at the BAE Systems dockyard in Williamstown, Victoria. These 27,000 tonne ships are the largest vessels ever constructed for the Navy and are capable of providing the Australian Defence Force with one of the most sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.

They are capable of complex amphibious operations and support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.