Two sailors in HMAS Sirius on the ship’s final deployment before being decommissioned were part of the ship’s commissioning crew in 2006.
CAPTION: Leading Seaman Esler Cartledge in the galley on board HMAS Sirius during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 21. Story by Captain Peter March. Photo by Leading Seaman Sittichai Sakonpoonpol.
Leading Seamen Boatswain’s Mate Terance Wilson-Mitchell and Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics – Chef Esler Cartledge are on board for Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021.
Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell, who joined the Navy in 2004, said he doesn’t recall too much about his first posting to Sirius, but could remember the sense of occasion of the commissioning.
“It was a daunting experience to bring a brand new ship online. I was an able seaman back then, and most of the crew were ex-Westralia, so we were a pretty tight group,” Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell said.
Leading Seaman Cartledge has more vivid memories of her first time aboard.
“I actually met my partner on this ship 15 years ago, and we’re still together,” Leading Seaman Cartledge said.
“I’d come off a lot of large ships, so this was my first experience with a smaller crew, and cooking for a smaller crew was a well-earned rest.”
Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell posted to Sirius again in 2010, then posted to HMA Ships Stirling, Perth, Ballarat and Cerberus before posting back to Sirius.
But he reckons Sirius is still very much the same ship.
“Things haven’t changed much, not in any real big way – perhaps apart from me being older – but it’s the same kind of tight-knit crew. Really, it’s just life at sea,” Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell said.
Commanding Officer Sirius Commander Christopher Doherty recognised the importance of having the kind of experience that Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell and Leading Seaman Cartledge bring to the crew.
“It’s exceptionally important for us to have this level of experience and knowledge in our ship’s systems here in Sirius. They are valued members of our crew who we couldn’t do without,” Commander Doherty said.
“Leading Seaman Cartledge is a consummate professional in the galley.
“She is an experienced sailor, who is able to meet every challenge thrown at her.
“She is also our ship’s leading seaman, meaning that she is one of my principal advisers on matters affecting the junior sailors.
“In that role, she has an unwavering commitment to them and an exceptional ethical and moral compass to help deal with issues.
“The level of experience that Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell has is excellent and it’s a real opportunity for the young sailors that he works with to learn from him.”
It’s the experiences gained in the Navy that Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell reflects most fondly on, with the travel that life at sea has afforded him a highlight of his career.
“I like the travel – going to weird and wonderful places – and I’ve been to places I’d never considered even going,” Leading Seamen Wilson-Mitchell said.
Leading Seamen Cartledge joined the Navy in 2001.
She said the opportunity to go back to HMAS Stirling and decommission Sirius would be a career high point.
“It’s a really proud moment to be able to do that, and when I come back into Fleet Base West for the last time, that’ll be a really proud moment,” Leading Seamen Cartledge said.
“I don’t think it’s changed, but I’ve changed – I’ve grown up a lot.
“She’s a little bit rustier, but everything else is the same.”