Seeing the world through operational tasking

Published on WO2 Andrew Hetherington (author and photographer)

Location(s): Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania

Topic(s): HMAS Perth (F157)

Royal Australian Navy sailors Seaman Bridget Hopkins (left) and Able Seaman Freya Dodd, are on their first operational deployment at sea aboard HMAS Perth. (photo: WO2 Andrew Hetherington)
Royal Australian Navy sailors Seaman Bridget Hopkins (left) and Able Seaman Freya Dodd, are on their first operational deployment at sea aboard HMAS Perth.

Half of HMAS Perth's crew are on their first Middle East mission, two of those are Seaman Boatswains Mate Bridget Hopkins and Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Freya Dodd, who have quickly adapted to their roles on operations at sea.
 
Seaman Hopkins has only been in the Navy for a year and is enjoying the challenges.

"I am qualified to maintain and fire all of the small arms on the ship including the 50 calibre machine gun, the F89 Minimi light support weapon, 9mm pistol and the F88 Steyr," she said.
 
"When I'm not looking after the weapons I assist with the rope work required for replenishments at sea as well as berthing and slipping tasks."
 
While Seaman Hopkins enjoys working with weapons, it’s the people that validate her decision to join the Navy.
 
"On this deployment I've made some great friends,” she said.
 
"It’s my first operational deployment, so it was hard leaving home, but I settled in quickly and I'm continuing to push through.”
 
Able Seaman Dodd joined the Navy two years ago after studying a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, at the one and-a-half year mark she decided that the course was not what she wanted to do.
 
"I saw all of the Navy recruitment media and was hooked," Able Seaman Dodd said
 
"Life in the Navy looked adventurous, so I decided to join, especially because I like the idea of living near the ocean, or on it."
 
"Even if I'm posted ashore with Navy, I want to be close to the beach, I like to surf."
 
Her first operational deployment is different to anything she might experience in civilian life.
 
"It takes a bit to get used to, as the sleep patterns are very different, but when I finally got into a rhythm it was a lot easier to adapt to life at sea," she said.
 
"I've developed a good sense of camaraderie with the people I'm on watch with, the time goes fast."
 
In her principal role as a Combat Systems Operator she likes the busy work environment.
 
"I'm essentially the right hand person for the Principal Warfare Officer and any time he needs something done he'll speak to me," Able Seaman Dodd said.
 
"I'm the communicator for the ship’s boarding parties and I also track ships, aircraft and submarines."
 
"The best part about it is when the action gets going and there is a real buzz in the operations room."