Choules emergency-ready

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Lana Emery (author), ABIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

Petty Officer Electronics Technician Stephen Phillips conducts maintenance on the Integrated Platform Management System onboard HMAS Choules. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Petty Officer Electronics Technician Stephen Phillips conducts maintenance on the Integrated Platform Management System onboard HMAS Choules.

Before embarking on his career in the Royal Australian Navy, Petty Officer Electronics Technician Stephen Phillips was just a boy at Harristown State High School in Toowoomba, Queensland.  Since leaving the beautiful Garden City, where he enjoyed watching the local Clydesdales play football with his family, spending time with friends and playing golf, he has been making waves working in the Royal Australian Navy as an Electronics Technician, sailing around the world onboard a number of Her Majesty’s Australian Ships.

It’s no surprise that Petty Officer Phillips joined the Navy given his family’s tradition of naval service. His dad was a Marine Technician known as a 'stoker' in the Royal Australian Navy, where he spent most of his time in Cairns serving in HMAS Moresby. Petty Officer Phillips’ sister also served in the Navy for 20 years as a stores sailor. She served in HMAS Tobruk on operations in Somalia and also on the previous HMAS Canberra.  She is currently employed at HMAS Stirling as a public servant.

Petty Officer Phillips’ own contribution is extensive.  He was posted in HMAS Sydney and participated in Operation WARDEN as part of International Forces in East Timor.  He was also onboard HMAS Melbourne during Operation TREK in the Solomon Islands.  He participated in Operation SLIPPER in the Middle East and was part of the decommissioning crew of HMAS Manoora. Petty Officer Phillips currently serves in HMAS Choules, most recently having been involved in Exercise SEA DAWN and Operation RENDER SAFE in Bougainville last year.  

"Over the course of my career, I am grateful for the many opportunities that I have had to travel to and explore exotic parts of the world that may not of otherwise been possible," Petty Officer Phillips said.

Petty Officer Electronics Technician Stephen Phillips takes charge of the forward repair station during a damage control exercise involving whole ships company.

Petty Officer Electronics Technician Stephen Phillips takes charge of the forward repair station during a damage control exercise involving whole ships company.

"Participating in Operation RENDER SAFE is the most memorable experience for me onboard so far; being part of an operation that was removing unexploded remnants of war, in order to provide a safe and habitable environment for the people of Bougainville to live in was a rewarding job in itself." 

As the manager of the sensors and weapons department, Petty Officer Phillips has responsibility of ensuring that systems such as radars, gyros, the speed log, GPS, and the Integrated Platform Management System operate without defects. All of these systems are essential for the ship’s safe navigation and situational awareness, and particularly for the conduct of amphibious operations. 

He has also stepped up to be in charge of the Standing Sea Fire and Emergency Party, running the specialist team that react to fires, floods and toxic hazards onboard.  The team is trained to be dressed in gloves and a protective hood, with breathing apparatus correctly checked and sealed, with the correct fire extinguishers at the right compartment ready to fight a fire - within three minutes of hearing an alarm. Choules is a 16 000 tonne ship, 176 metres long and has nine decks, which equates to 18 flights of stairs from top to bottom - so the team trains daily to know the ship inside and out.

Petty Officer Phillips and the ship's company of Choules are looking forward their next challenge, Exercise TALISMAN SABRE, off the coasts of Darwin and Townsville in July.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to serve my country for this time," he said.