Naval engineering staff get a taste of life at sea

This article has photo gallery Published on Mrs Racheal Reynolds (author), Department of Defence (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base East, Sydney

Topic(s): HMAS Choules (L100), Navy Engineering

NTB staff prepare to embark HMAS Choules for a day of discovery and information sharing. (photo: Department of Defence)
NTB staff prepare to embark HMAS Choules for a day of discovery and information sharing.

A contingent of 35 Navy engineering staff have sampled an experience in one of the Navy's largest and tallest ships. Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, Commander Scott Houlihan, opened his ship to APS and industry staff across several events during September.

Dr John Wieczorek, the Naval Technical Bureau’s lead electrical engineer was very impressed with the experience and said that “the ship’s electrical department went out of their way to show visitors around and explain to them the operation of complex electrical ship systems.”

He felt that this improved his staff’s understanding and that the ‘hands on’ experience will enable NTB to provide better support in future upgrades of various ship systems.

“HMAS Choules’ crew was very proud of their ship and her excellent record of providing reliable support to the RAN Fleet.

“It was evident to all sea riders that this pride was entirely justified,” said Dr Wieczorek.

Ely Flaws, who is the liaison officer between HMAS Choules and the Technical Bureau was similarly impressed.

“Visiting Choules was a great opportunity for engineers to have access to the ship whilst it is operating.

“Our engineers were able to conduct discussions with ship's staff to gain valuable knowledge and insight into all systems of interest.”

Samantha Robichaux from the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects cell said “It was great to get out of the office with my colleagues. The ships staff were amazingly welcoming and helped us to feel part of the Navy team.”

“It was great to remind everyone that although ship's company is at the sharp end, there is a team of experts supporting them.

“It was also an opportunity for cross collaboration as we could explore the ship outside our normal subject matter area.

“Ship's staff were keen to share their experience and knowledge with us and saw the opportunity to speak directly to the subject matter experts to gain clarification and make suggestions for the future.”

Familiarisation activities during the visit included measuring active cathodic protection system performance, accessing machinery spaces, and gaining a thorough understanding of the galley and its operation.

For Samantha, the highlight of the experience was “utilising the well dock to deploy the mexeflote in Sydney Harbour, and seeing how embarked forces would interact on the ship.”

HMAS Choules is an amphibious Landing Ship Dock capable of carrying more than 300 troops, and is designed to operate using helicopters and landing craft to get landing forces and equipment ashore. The ship commissioned in the RAN in December 2011, having originally served with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary before joining the Royal Australian Navy's fleet.