Midshipman William Bragg recently enjoyed a change of pace early in his Navy career, joining the Royal Australian Navy sail training ship, Young Endeavour, for a voyage across Australia’s north, from Gove to Darwin.
The 11-day youth development voyage was part of the tall ship’s 2016 circumnavigation of the continent, which began in Sydney in May this year.
Normally posted to amphibious ship HMAS Choules, based out of Sydney, the 19 year old found himself sitting aloft on the brigantine’s topgallant yard while sailing the picturesque narrow passage through the Hole in the Wall in the Northern Territory.
“I’d just finished the first phase of my Junior Warfare Application Course. I expressed my interest in on a Wednesday, and was on Young Endeavour by the Sunday. It was definitely worth it,” he said.
Voyages onboard Young Endeavour take young people from around the country on a challenging physical and mental journey covering all aspects of sailing a square-rigged tall ship, including sail handling, working aloft and deck duties, routine rounds, helm and navigation activities, maintaining look-out and assisting the chef in the galley.
Each participant is encouraged to pursue personal and team goals as they participate in the internationally-recognised program which aims to develop teamwork, communication and leadership skills. Since Young Endeavour was gifted to Australia in 1988, more than 12,500 young people have completed the program under the guidance of a specially trained Royal Australian Navy staff crew.
As a junior naval officer, Midshipman Bragg said that the voyage complemented his initial training and offered practical opportunities to advance his leadership skills.
“In the New Entry Officers’ Course we’ve focused a lot on orders-based leadership, which absolutely has its place in the military. On Young Endeavour you have to step back and get input from others to reach a goal. You have to consult and communicate ideas effectively.
“As a junior officer, you’ve got to be able to do that and to tie the two leadership styles together.
“We learnt this in basic training, but sailing Young Endeavour was a way to see how it’s done in practice. I’ve already been using what I have learned in HMAS Choules.”
Midshipman Bragg enjoyed the opportunity to interact with a diverse crew of Navy personnel and civilians in a non-military environment.
“I met a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds. In particular there were youth from Gove who were 16 years old, and it was great to see them develop as the voyage went on. They got so much out of it.
“The Navy crew were proficient and efficient, and pushed us to develop into teams right from the start. They run a really tight ship.”
For anyone considering applying for a voyage, Midshipman Bragg recommended the opportunity.
Applications to join STS Young Endeavour on upcoming voyages along the south and east coasts of Australia are now open to all Australians aged 16-23.