Philippines visit a ‘dream come true’ for HMAS Stuart medic

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Tanalee Smith (author), LSIS Tara Byrne (photographer)

Location(s): Cebu, Philippines

Topic(s): HMAS Stuart (F153)

Able Seaman Medic Mary Dibley in the sickbay on board HMAS Stuart. (photo: LSIS Tara Byrne)
Able Seaman Medic Mary Dibley in the sickbay on board HMAS Stuart.

For one medic in HMAS Stuart, visiting a particular port during the East Asia Deployment was a dream come true.

Able Seaman Medic Mary Dibley was born in a mountain town in the province of Cebu, and moved to Australia when she was nine years old.

Thanks to Stuart’s recent port visit Able Seaman Dibley was able to visit her hometown, spending time with cousins, aunts and uncles and welcoming them aboard to attend the ship’s official reception.

“I joined the Navy because I wanted to help people, to provide humanitarian relief to countries like the Philippines if they needed it,” she said.

“It is my dream come true to travel to the Philippines as part of my work. This is pretty special.”

HMAS Stuart was in the Philippines to take part in commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

The ship is one of eleven ships with more than 1000 personnel across two task groups that are visiting partners in North and South East Asia for multinational exercises and regional engagement activities.

Able Seaman Dibley grew up in Kyogle, NSW, and joined the Royal Australian Navy within months of graduating from St John’s College Woodlawn.

“I return home every year. It is such a friendly community and I enjoy the beautiful surroundings – there are waterfalls and heaps of trails and it’s so peaceful,” she said.

She said she sees her Navy medical career as a way to help contribute to ‘something important,’ and has grown since being posted to Stuart in July.

“I have definitely learned a lot already in this posting, as the Petty Officer Medic and the Doctor give me a lot of support as well as some autonomy to fulfil my role,” Able Seaman Dibley said.

“It’s an inclusive ship and a great work environment.”

Able Seaman Dibley was welcomed in Cebu by more than 30 family members. She said her mother was thrilled that she was able to visit the Philippines on this deployment.

“My Mum and Dad are overwhelmingly proud of me and very emotional that I am coming to the Philippines as part of the Royal Australian Navy.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”

Able Seaman Medic Jane Dibley with her cousins Ivy Endrina and Malyn Marjun at an official reception onboard HMAS Stuart in Cebu, Philippines.

Able Seaman Medic Jane Dibley with her cousins Ivy Endrina and Malyn Marjun at an official reception onboard HMAS Stuart in Cebu, Philippines.