Oct 2012: First time at sea for new sailors
By OEWS Joshua Burnton and OEWS Joshua McCluskey
As a bunch of Basic Branch Trainees waiting at the Naval Personnel Resource Centre for security clearances, being informed we were required in the meeting room to be given some “news” was daunting. However the news was that we were posting to ship. For the past two months we have been posted to TE MANA out of trade acting as seamen to assist in basic mariner duties. During our time on TE MANA our seamanship skills, experience and knowledge have grown. We have partaken in many Damage Control scenarios and ship’s evolutions as well as other activities such as Watchkeeping, taking part in the boat’s crew as bowman, being on the ship’s Watch and Station Bill, and visiting our first port.
Being posted on during the SARC period with multiple Damage Control incidents daily was both challenging and exciting. Putting the skills learnt at the Damage Control School into action really showed the importance of knowing correct drills and safety. The main challenge of the Damage Control incidents was not knowing the ship or its crew; however due to the evolutions, we quickly became familiar with both. The low numbers of Ship’s Company onboard meant at we played a more active role in the scenarios, which gave us more opportunities to learn.
Taking part in Special Sea Duty parties and other seamanship activities meant our basic mariner abilities were tested and then improved. Firstly, we took part in the slipping of the ship, which for us was the first time that we were on the ship when the lines were passed over. It was an exciting experience being at our parts of ship, working lines and beginning to feel part of Ship’s Company. Once at sea, we were faced with another steep learning curve, as we began watches on the bridge. Everything from reporting contacts, to making pipes, and being on the helm, made an interesting first day. Our first night at sea brought us many other challenges, such as learning how to drop anchor, realising the value of sleep, and evening rounds at sea.
After one week at sea for the first time, we were all very eager to get to Tauranga and experience what would be our first port visit. Coming in to Tauranga Harbour, while closed up at specials, was an exciting time as we anticipated the upcoming weekend. Tauranga gave us the chance to meet our colleagues outside of the work environment. During the following week, several VIPs came onboard and we conducted 5-inch gun drills, 50-calibre shoots with the “killer tomato”, and chaff launches. TE MANA and its crew also featured in the new Navy Recruiting TV ad, with a few of us getting some spotlight in front of the camera.
During our short time in the RNZN, the opportunities and experiences we have had, our far beyond what any of us expected. Being a part of TE MANA Ship’s Company has been the highlight as it has taught us what a career in the Navy involves, and its rewards. We all look forward to the chance of being posted back on to TE MANA after we complete our BBT courses, as operational Electronic Warfare Specialists.
Photo: OEWS Burnton aboard TE MANA