On Sunday 20 October, 65 sea-ready members of the 49th New Entry Officers’ Course (NEOC), or NEOCs as they are affectionately known, embarked on their three-week Sea Training Deployment in HMAS Tobruk (II).
Eager Sub Lieutenants and Midshipmen of the Royal Australian Naval College’s last ever Jervis, Philip and Flinders Divisions boarded buses at HMAS Creswell and travelled up to Fleet Base East.
Following the excitement of the International Fleet Review, the NEOCs were keen to sample life at sea.
“We were really keen to speak to the various sailors about their own careers, reasons for joining, ambitions and their families,” Sub Lieutenant Illona Parker said.
The Sea Training Deployment represents a critical component of the NEOC training continuum and provides officers, regardless of specialisation or potential career stream, the chance to get to sea and experience life as a junior sailor.
The NEOC contingent was accompanied by Chaplain Dan Hynes and Divisional Officers Lieutenant Mark Johnson and Lieutenant Alessia Mathewson.
“Side by side with the Boatswains, we participated in the handling and storing of berthing lines, while with the Stewards we witnessed and helped facilitate the norms of the wardroom. In the Galley, we witnessed the professionalism of the Chefs who sate the never ending hunger of a hard-working ship’s company,” said Midshipman Charles Nuttall-Smith.
Accommodated in Tobruk’s Embarked Forces Messes, the NEOCS got their first real taste of communal living on the high seas.
“With bunks three high, and passageways in which cooperation is required to pass, we all quickly learned the patience, consideration and good humour that is required to get along at sea,” said MIDN Nuttall-Smith.
“The Sea Training Deployment taught us that the sailors in the Royal Australian Navy very much deserve officers who will endeavour to lead by example; an example that has been set and shown by the crew of Tobruk,” said SBLT Paker.
“Apart from getting involved with the practical components of life at sea, we also had to study for exams, write journals and get competencies signed off,” said MIDN Smith.
“It was a very enjoyable experience, and it is only the start of our sea careers,” he said.