‘Gun buster’ can tickle the ivories

When Able Seaman Xavier Riddell joined HMAS Anzac (III) in June last year, he brought with him some serious classical musical talent.

CAPTION: Able Seaman Xavier Riddell plays a tune for HMAS Sirius during a replenishment at sea in the Bay of Bengal. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long. Photo by Leading Seaman Thomas Sawtell.

When he performed Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on piano during a port visit to Sembawang in Singapore, his shipmates quickly realised Able Seaman Riddell was not your average ‘gun buster’, as his electronics technician trade is known.

Able Seaman Riddell maintains the ship’s 5-inch gun, along with other weapons systems and counter measures.

The self-taught musician grew up on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane, and did a stint of farm work in Charleville, Queensland, before joining the Navy as a 19-year-old.

His move to Defence wasn’t unexpected, however, as his family has a long history of military service, including a grandfather with a connection to the previous HMAS Anzac.

“We have a long line of service personnel in my family, going back to World War I and World War II,” he said.

“My family served in all three forces, and my grandad was also on Anzac (II) so he was happy to hear I was now on Anzac (III).”

Able Seaman Riddell said as well as loving his role in the weapons-electrical field, he had taken to life at sea.

“I love how hands-on my job is, and to be honest, I really love the sea life,” he said.

“I was also happy to see how much of an appreciation people had for my piano playing.”

Anzac’s assistant weapons electrical engineering officer Lieutenant Lazarus Lai De Oliveira said Able Seaman Riddell had proven himself to be a quick learner and an invaluable member of the weapons electrical engineering team since joining the ship.

“His keen attention to detail and work ethic stands out and he’s shown great development since he’s been a part of Anzac,” Lieutenant Lai De Oliveira said.

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