Sea-change leads to Navy life

Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author)

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Leeuwin (A245)

Midshipmen Jason Gilmore and Elizabeth Lewis on the bridge wing of HMAS Leeuwin. (photo: )
Midshipmen Jason Gilmore and Elizabeth Lewis on the bridge wing of HMAS Leeuwin.

While most people join the Navy directly from high school, university or as their first full-time job, two new officers in HMAS Leeuwin have come with many years of experience in the civilian workforce.

Midshipmen Jason Gilmore and Elizabeth Lewis are completing Phase Two of the Maritime Warfare Officer Course aboard the hydrographic survey ship, which has recently deployed to Sri Lanka.

While they’ve already spent time at sea in HMAS Choules and the multi-role training vessel MV Sycamore, their time in Leeuwin will consolidate their training and extend their understanding of working as part of a ship’s company.

The pair are joined by four other Midshipmen, who are either helping to keep watches on the bridge or working with the ship’s technical department.

While their Navy careers are still in the early stages, they bring significant work experience to their new lives as officers-in-training.

Midshipman Gilmore was a paramedic in New South Wales for two years, and has also worked for 25 years as a chicken, macadamia and coffee farmer. He said he was seeking a new challenge when he decided to join the Navy.

“A family friend was a Clearance Diver in the Navy and had tried to encourage me to join when I was younger,” Midshipman Gilmore said.

“I’ve always had an interest in the Navy and grew up on the water, fishing and surfing, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.”

“When my kids were young, I was working in Sydney with the New South Wales Ambulance Service and they were in Ballina, which was hard. Now they’re grown up, it’s easier to be away from home.”

He said the sea time in Leeuwin was proving invaluable.

“I’ve been doing some basic conning on the bridge and learning the administration tasks for an Officer of the Watch - like keeping logbooks and practicing contact reports,” Midshipman Gilmore said.

“My goal is to learn as much as possible about the ship’s different departments and how they interface and I want to leave Leeuwin knowing I’ve given my best effort to the team,” he said.

Midshipman Lewis spent 10 years in Europe as a guide for Contiki and Trafalgar and was still working abroad when she applied to join the Navy.

“I’ve never wanted to be stuck behind a desk,” Midshipman Lewis said.

“Joining the Navy as a Maritime Warfare Officer seemed like a good way to be part of something bigger and work in a unique environment that a lot of people don’t know much about.

“I’ve spent time working with the Marine and Electronic Technicians, learning about the ship’s systems, and have been living as a sailor would, making rounds and knowing the ship well,” she said.

Midshipmen Gilmore and Lewis will continue on as members of the ship’s company until July, and will then progress to the next phase of their training.