Crucial role of ‘greenies’ aboard navy ships

If the operations room is the heart of the landing helicopter dock, it could be said that electronics technicians are the ship’s white blood cells.

CAPTIONElectronics technicians Able Seaman William Clayton, left, and Leading Seaman Matthew Jarman inspect a component in a radar room following a damage control scenario aboard HMAS Adelaide. Story and photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.

Or is it green blood cells?

Colloquially called greenies because of the green stripe officers wore on their sleeves, electronics technicians like Leading Seaman Matthew Jarman maintain and fix crucial sensors that act as the ears and eyes of Navy’s biggest ship.

In HMAS Adelaide’s dimmed operations room, where faces are lit by the glow of computer screens, combat systems operators work around the clock.

If there’s a problem with the radar or sensors used to gather crucial information, Leading Seaman Jarman and his team of greenies are working around the clock too.

“There’s a common saying that greenies sleep all day,” Leading Seaman Jarman said.

“But if there’s an issue with a system, we will work on it until it’s fixed; it doesn’t matter when or for how many hours.

“We could do a full day of damage-control exercises, then if something breaks at midnight, we get woken up and could be up until six in the morning until it’s fixed.

“When it hits the fan, we’re busy and the work is hard.”

Electronics technicians spend a year at trade school after recruit training and finish with a TAFE certificate in electronics and communications.

They gain further qualifications as they progress through the ranks all the way up to a diploma.

The job is split into different roles. Sailors can choose to specialise in sensors, communications and weapons.

Leading Seaman Jarman’s rating is fire control.

He said his core role as a fire control technician on a landing helicopter dock was different to a guided missile destroyer, but there were plenty of opportunities to hone his craft while posted to HMAS Adelaide.

“On a ship that has missiles and fire missions, we would be on watch in the operations room as a fire control operator,” Leading Seaman Jarman said.

“When I was in training, other people all said electronics technician was the best job because of a chilled-out mentality, the benefits and qualifications.

“But for me the best part is when I find an ‘out of the box’ solution to a problem.

“The manuals only tell you so much; sometimes you have to ask yourself, what if I try this?”


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