Time at sea a steep learning curve

HMAS Hobart is providing opportunities for trainee maritime warfare officers (MWOs) to consolidate what they’ve learnt during their training at HMAS Watson.

CAPTION: RAN navigator Lieutenant Dean Gilbert mentors Sub Lieutenant Annabelle Wall (left) as she conducts duties as assistant officer of the watch on the bridge of HMAS Hobart. Story by Lieutenant Nancy Cotton. Photo by Able Seaman Jarryd Capper.

Sub Lieutenant Annabelle Wall joined Navy last year and completed the New Entry Officer Course.

She is in Hobart completing stage two of her four-stage MWO training program.

She said she had months of hard work and study ahead.

“This stage of my training involves assisting the officer of the watch in maintaining the navigational safety of the ship,” Sub Lieutenant Wall said.

“A day for me is grabbing a brew in the wardroom before I head to outstation departments such as the combat information centre and platform control room to get information I’ll need for my watch on the bridge.

“We’re currently holding a one-in-three watch system, so I will be on the bridge for four hours and off for eight.

“The eight [hours] off is the time where I need to get my other ancillary duties done, plus go to the gym, eat, sleep and study, too, then I start all over again.”

The role of a maritime warfare officer offers a variety of specialisations and Sub Lieutenant Wall has navigator in her sights.

“MWO is really hard work every day, but I love it. It’s almost addictive wanting to execute the work better each time,” Sub Lieutenant Wall said.

“For me, the greatest challenge as a trainee is acclimatising to the watch system – being tired but still needing to maintain knowledge and learn all I need for my job.

“After an arduous, tiring watch, it’s the best feeling for me stepping out onto the bridge wing, day or night, and just standing there and resetting my brain and switching off for a moment.”

Before joining Navy, Sub Lieutenant Wall worked as a marine predator researcher, having completed a master’s degree in research.

Her love for the ocean and marine life was a driver behind her decision to join Navy.

“I was on the bridge wing and looked out into the glare and, right there, were three rare whale species I’ve never seen before. I don’t know many jobs that allow you to combine two passions like this job does,” Sub Lieutenant Wall said.

“It’s a long journey, but worth it.

“This is the next stage of career development for me, with my marine research, to now become a better mariner.”

After completing stage two of training, Sub Lieutenant Wall will continue through practical and theoretical assessments at sea on other vessels and ashore before being awarded her bridge warfare certificate and the maritime warfare officer primary qualification.





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