Inland Submariner supporting COVID in Shepparton

This article has photo gallery Published on FLGOFF Jessica Winnall (author), PTE Dustin Anderson (photographer)

Location(s): Shepparton, Vic

Topic(s): Operation COVID-19 ASSIST

Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Marine Technician Submariner Gareth James at the Goulburn Valley Health testing site in Shepparton, Victoria, during Operation COVID-19 ASSIST. (photo: PTE Dustin Anderson)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Marine Technician Submariner Gareth James at the Goulburn Valley Health testing site in Shepparton, Victoria, during Operation COVID-19 ASSIST.

Royal Australian Navy Submariner Petty Officer Marine Technician Gareth James is an instructor at HMAS Cerberus, and as a trained Ship’s Medical Emergency Team member he immediately volunteered for Operation COVID-19 ASSIST.

Petty Officer James is taking his first aid training to new levels - not just above sea level - and assisting at the symptomatic testing site at Shepparton in regional Victoria.

“There is a lot which is similar between Operation COVID-19 ASSIST and a submarine operation,” Petty Officer James said.

“You can use the energy of the people around you. We are all in this together.”

Often at sea for months at a time, and not able to communicate with his family, Petty Officer James has a unique perspective on coping with Stage 3 and 4 restrictions.

“This deployment is bittersweet. My family are used to me being away, and thinking that “no news is good news”, but knowing that I am in Shepparton and they are so close on the Mornington Peninsula is especially hard.

“My children are in high school, and they are learning from home, and I wish I could be more help.

“I expect my wife also wished I could be more help,” Petty Officer James joked.

“We are embracing technology. I watched the entire MotoGP with my son on Facetime.

“I am proud of how hard both my children are studying in this tough time - making the most of a hard situation.

“The highs and lows on this deployment and being on a sub are similar.

“It is important to keep your mind and also your body busy. Exercise is important. Study can help.”

Petty Officer James grew up in Perth, WA, and lives with his wife and two children on the Mornington Peninsula.

Currently posted at HMAS Cerberus, Petty Officer James is training the next generation of sailors for the Royal Australian Navy.

L-R: Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Marine Technician Submariner Gareth James; Australian Army soldier Sergeant Nicola Emsley of the Army School of Health; and Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman Medic Mele Buadromo prepare COVID-19 test samples at the Goulburn Valley Health testing site in Shepparton, Victoria, during Operation COVID-19 ASSIST.

L-R: Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Marine Technician Submariner Gareth James; Australian Army soldier Sergeant Nicola Emsley of the Army School of Health; and Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman Medic Mele Buadromo prepare COVID-19 test samples at the Goulburn Valley Health testing site in Shepparton, Victoria, during Operation COVID-19 ASSIST.