Arctic upbringing adds resilience for NUSHIP Sydney officer

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), ABIS Craig Walton (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Sydney (D42)

Then Sub Lieutenant Inger Ellingsen determines range with a Stuart's marine distance meter as HMAS Hobart (III) departs Garden Island, Sydney, in February 2018. (photo: ABIS Craig Walton)
Then Sub Lieutenant Inger Ellingsen determines range with a Stuart's marine distance meter as HMAS Hobart (III) departs Garden Island, Sydney, in February 2018.

When Maritime Warfare Officer Lieutenant Inger Ellingsen was growing up near Narvik, Norway, she had no inkling that her future career would be on the other side of the globe as part of the team driving the Royal Australian Navy’s newest warship.

However, a childhood that included regular hunting, fishing, boat building, dancing and cross-country skiing has given her plenty of resilience and initiative to take up the myriad of challenges faced in her role as an Officer of the Watch on NUSHIP Sydney.

Inger Ellingsen during her childhood in Norway.

Inger Ellingsen during her childhood in Norway.

Lieutenant Ellingsen said her varied upbringing inside the Arctic Circle meant she was not afraid to “have a crack and get the hands dirty.”

“I’ve gone from Narvik, where the Arctic Night lasts for two months of the year, meaning no sun for the whole period, to living in a land that is blessed with sunshine on the most capable warships in the Fleet,” she said.

Lieutenant Ellingsen’s mother grew up in Pymble, Sydney and in Thredbo, so she has family in both Australia and Norway. However, she only arrived in Sydney just over seven years ago in search of new challenges.

Since joining Navy in 2014 and going on to serve in all three of the new Hobart Class Destroyers, she said she has well and truly found the challenge she was seeking.

Lieutenant Ellingsen trained in HMAS Hobart (III) and did her Officer of the Watch Endorsement in HMAS Brisbane (III) before posting to Sydney.

“Being in a new ship is challenging but rewarding. It’s an encouragement to always strive to find a better way to do things.”

“We have the honour of establishing the foundations of a platform that will be in service for many years and everything we do now will become part of the ship’s history,” she said.

While her hometown of Narvik is best known these days for its alpine skiing and abundant ocean and freshwater fishing, it also boasts its own Naval history.

Unbeknown to most, in 1940 Narvik was the scene of the first battle won by the Allied Forces over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. There were two battles between the Royal Navy and the German Navy, followed by a land campaign.