All-female command navigation team takes sail

HMAS Hobart recently departed Cowper Wharf, Sydney, for a routine passage to Eden – a challenging navigation for the nearly 150m-long guided missile destroyer.

CAPTIONAble Seaman Kendall Byrnes, left, Commander Tina Brown, Lieutenant Tori Costello and Sub-Lieutenant Cameron Moncrieff on board HMAS Hobart. Story by Sub-Lieutenant Madelyn Hanna.

It wasn’t until the ship was well underway, however, that it dawned on the crew: all key bridge and navigation roles were executed by women.

Commanding Officer Hobart Commander Tina Brown said it was a subtle, but profound revelation.

“The Navy has made so much progress for women in leadership roles that these sorts of activities have become common place,” she said.

“It made it all the more special that, in the first instance, we failed to recognise that we were all female, and then we did it twice again the next day, departing Eden and returning to Fleet Base East.”

The team driving the billion-dollar warship included Commander Brown, navigating officer Lieutenant Tori Costello, special sea dutymen officer of the watch Sub-Lieutenant Cameron Moncrieff and quartermaster Able Seaman Kendall Byrnes – with numerous other women holding key incident control and safety positions.

Navy women strategic adviser Commander Gabby Dobson said these sorts of examples carry with them a strong message to aspiring women, in and out of uniform.

“Increasing the number of women in leadership and technical roles is not just a moral and social obligation, it’s also an operational necessity,” she said.

“Studies show that women build self-confidence when they have a female role-model to look to, and Defence Force Recruiting research shows the same for candidates progressing through the recruitment pipeline to appointment or enlistment.

“We need to grow our workforce and this will require us to continue our efforts to attract and recruit a diversity of talent and create a culture of inclusion.”

Lieutenant Costello said she felt proud to be a part of a generation of women leading by example.

“I believe it’s important to showcase those who have reached a certain level in their field,” she said.

“Being part of one of the first all-female command navigation teams in a destroyer is not only a demonstration that we’re making progress, but we’re breaking down long-standing barriers and opening the doors to many more opportunities.”


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