Sunshine coast sailor continues family tradition to serve in Navy

Published on Mr Michael Brooke (author), ABIS Chantell Bianchi (photographer), CPL Matthew Bickerton (photographer)

Location(s): Bougainville Island

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Steward Angela Stephenson pours some refreshments onboard HMAS Choules. (photo: ABIS Chantell Bianchi)
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Steward Angela Stephenson pours some refreshments onboard HMAS Choules.

Becoming a sailor was a natural career path for Angela Stephenson who comes from a Navy family on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
 
Able Seaman Stephenson, a 22 year old Maritime Logistics - Steward recently joined HMAS Choules which has just been involved in the removal of Second World War-era war weapons from Bougainville in the South Pacific through Operation RENDER SAFE.
 
After graduating from Mountain Creek State High School, Able Seaman Stephenson decided to follow the footsteps of her father, Wayne, her brother Kurt, and her sister Kayla, and join the Navy.
 
After graduating from Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus she went on to complete a Certificate III in Hospitality, preparing her for postings to HMA Ships Sydney and Success and most recently to Choules.
 
Serving on board Choules may not be as relaxing as the Sunshine Coast at all times, Angela continues to enjoy the weather and the beaches along the way - when she is able to take a break from her busy routine.

A Landing craft approaches the well dock of HMAS Choules after departing Torokina Beach during Operation RENDER SAFE 14.

A Landing craft approaches the well dock of HMAS Choules after departing Torokina Beach during Operation RENDER SAFE 14.


"I serve meals to over 81 people three times a day as well as completing upper deck sentry watches when not on duty.
 
"I am responsible for closing up a forward repair base during whole of ship damage control exercises and I also conduct hotel services for 20 officers’ cabins as well while serving in the ship's canteen daily!" she said.
 
“Operation RENDER SAFE has been an interesting experience and at times challenging with long hours; however, knowing you are helping people live safer lives makes it all worth it and rewarding,” she said.
 
Choules and her embarked personnel of explosive ordnance disposal specialists, clearance divers and medical officers took part in RENDER SAFE between 24 October and 7 November. The activity involves several nations and was tasked with removing bombs, weapons and ammunition from the Second World War that remain in islands in and around Bougainville.
 
Bougainville was the scene of heavy fighting with more than 500 Australians and 40,000 Japanese soldiers killed in combat or succumbing to illness. While the level of ordinance remaining is hard to estimate, the 2013 Operation RENDER SAFE conducted in the Solomon Islands disposed of more than 12,000 unexploded objects and this year's is expected to be equally successful.