Sad, but proud to be part of the end of an era

Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Able Seaman Robert Johnson stands proud in front of his breakfast creation inside the galley onboard HMAS Brunei. (photo: ABIS Tom Gibson)
Able Seaman Robert Johnson stands proud in front of his breakfast creation inside the galley onboard HMAS Brunei.

Being the Chef on one of the Royal Australian Navy Cairns based Landing Craft Heavy vessels has been a complete contrast for Able Seaman Robert Johnson after growing up in Canberra.

"Canberra has a lot to offer, especially if you like the cold weather."

"Freezing temperatures, seeing snow on the mountains and feeling the fresh wind flowing through Tuggeranong Valley straight off the off the snow."

"Living in Cairns now, I have to say that I do not miss it, but I do look forward to getting home and seeing my family," Able Seaman Johnson said.

Being a chef on a small ship is a busy job for Able Seaman Johnson, who cooks ‘copious amounts’ of food for three meals a day for the crew, while also undertaking a variety of Navy seamanship evolutions.

"Being in a small, tight knit crew has meant that I have had much more involvement with the full range of the ship’s activities."

"My next posting will be to another small ship, so I get to stay as my own boss where I have a similar small ship structure," Able Seaman Johnson said.

The Navy’s three remaining Landing Craft Heavy ships (HMA Ships Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan) are to be decommissioned in November 2014, when the focus of Navy’s amphibious capability will shift to the Canberra-Class Landing Helicopter Docks .

"The decommissioning of the landing craft will both be sad and proud for me."

"It will be sad to see the end of an era, but I am proud to be part of the celebration."

"The arrival of the new Canberra class is an exciting time for the Navy, but I personally look forward to staying on small boats," Able Seaman Johnson said.

The Landing Craft have provided nearly 40 years of essential service to communities in Australia and the Pacific.  Their versatility as a medium sea lift vessel saw them provide much of the logistics support to Australian Defence Force operations in Bouganville, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.