Home' Navy News : December 10th 2009 Contents 17
December 10, 2009
ibility of the sea in Jordan as absolutely perfect," ABCD
"In conditions of visibility exceeding 25 metres and with
the perfect water temperature, Jordan was easily one of the
highlights of my diving career. As well as unbelievable diving
conditions the abundance of beautiful fish and coral made for
Aqaba also offered an excellent range of local market
places offering local handcrafts including silver, semi-precious
jewellery and Dead Sea salts and beauty products.
The visit to Jordan was enjoyed so much that many of
Toowoomba's crew hope they will get the opportunity to
return again either with work or on holidays.
Toowoomba left Jordan to continue patrols in the Middle
East Area of Operations, contributing to maritime security
operations, counter-piracy and counter-terrorist activities in
the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa.
By ABET Samantha Whitfield
IT IS not every day that a RAN sailor gets the opportunity to
cross-deck to a USN aircraft carrier. But that's exactly what
happened to me during HMAS Toowoomba's tasking in CTF50.
I was one of the lucky ones chosen to cross-deck to the nuclear-
powered carrier USS Nimitz. Flown over by our Seahawk Pegasus,
together with five other members of the ship's company, I spent the
day being shown around the impressive ship.
My guide was Operations Specialist E7 Maritza Chavez, the
equivalent rank to leading seaman. We got along well right from the
start and I enjoyed hearing her talk about the ship. Her tour included
places such as the hangar, flight deck, fo'c'sle and the bridge.
I learnt about the different coloured jerseys worn by the sailors
who work on the flight deck and how the aircraft are lowered from
the flight deck to the hangar for maintenance. Maintenance is con-
ducted 24 hours a day!
We also toured the various gyms. The ship had a dedicated
treadmill room complete with 30 treadmills and 15 spin bikes.
Toowoomba has just one treadmill and two bikes so you can imag-
ine my expression when I walked into this gym! Up another deck,
however, there was a compartment the size of a mainstream gym full
On the bridge I got to take the helm and steer the ship. What a
thrill to claim that I have steered an aircraft carrier!
Of course one of the most impressive aspects of Nimitz was the
number of aircraft on board. We spent time on 'Vultures Row' adja-
cent to the air tower to see the jets take off -- it was a great view
of the whole operation. With the engines winding up, the roar of
the engines were so loud we both had ear plugs and ear muffs on.
Following all the noise came the vibration through my body and the
entire ship. In just seconds the jet took off and left us with the smell
of burnt rubber and rising steam from the catapult on the deck.
Accommodation on Nimitz was quite different to Toowoomba
-- Maritza lived in a berthing area with 80 girls that were all from
her department. They share three showers! She said there was never
a long queue because they all had different watches. Their rack size
is a lot smaller than ours; although wider, the height from one to
another is much smaller. They also have coffin lockers where their
belongings are stored under their rack.
There were a number of rumours about aircraft carriers I was
keen to dispel with Maritza. She told me there was no McDonald's
restaurant, no bowling alley, no swimming pool, no one person to
change all the light bulbs and, despite a company of close to 4800,
there was no one person to fill the goffa machines. However, they
did have a church and USS Ronald Reagan has a Starbucks!
After lunch in their giant sailors' mess, I had a quick tour and
explanation of the brig on board and visited the convenience store
for souvenirs. Maritza and I exchanged hats, coffee mugs and of
course our email addresses.
It was likely that the next chance I would have to see Maritza
would be if the ship came to Australia. But fate had a different plan
and, two days later, Maritza visited Toowoomba as part of the per-
sonnel exchange program. Maritza arrived shortly after our RAS with
Nimitz and I happily showed her how we live on board an Anzac
Where I had exclaimed "Wow, it's so big" when on board Nimitz,
her comments were quite the opposite -- especially when we visited
our weights and cardio room. Maritza said she had a warm feeling
from our ship and liked how everybody knew one another.
This was one of the most amazing opportunities of my Navy
career to date and, hopefully, fate will once again step in and I will
get to see Maritza in Perth next year.
cross deck for lucky
MAMMOTH: Operations E7 Maritza Chavez (left) gives
ABET Sam Whitfield a tour of USS
Photo: LEUT Kelli Lunt
SE FROM TOP (L-R):
Ratislav Zamencik is taught how to tie a 'keffiyeh' by a local
Wadi Rum, Jordan.
astline along Aqaba, Jordan boasts spectacular coral and sea
g this Petrois species lion fish.
Toowoomba steams towards the Port of Aqaba, Jordan.
MDR Ivan Ingham, LCDR Carroll, LCDR Stan Buckham and
Howard stand in front of the treasury building in the lost city
CIS Glenn Willats, ABCD Jackson, ABET Cristy Hazelman
Rastislav Zamecnik smear themselves in black mud before
n the salty water in the Dead Sea, Jordan.
AS HMAS Toowoomba conducted her final patrol
in the MEAO, Commander JTF633 MAJGEN Mark
Kelly joined her to congratulate the ship's company
on a successful deployment and to recognise some of
their exceptional achievements.
"I congratulate you on the completion of a most
successful mission in enforcing maritime security
across the MEAO and while tasked to TF50 and CTFs
150 and 151," MAJGEN Kelly said.
"You should be extremely proud of the important
contribution you have all made toward maritime secu-
rity in the Gulf, as well as being the first RAN warship
to participate in counter-terrorism operations in the
Arabian Sea and counter-piracy operations in the Gulf
Silver CJTF633 commendations were awarded to
RANLO Bahrain LCDR Michael Slattery, Toowoomba's
Navigator LEUT Jonathon Beatty, LSPT Nicole
Gunthorpe, POMT Dane Field and LSCK Darrin Eslick,
for their outstanding performance.
Individual Bronze CJTF633 commendations were
awarded to CPOMT Andrew Bowering and POMT
Raymond White, while a group Bronze CJTF633
commendation recognised the exceptional efforts of
Toowoomba's (Flight 3) aviation maintainers.
"Through a combination of sheer hard work and
technical excellence, you delivered a near-perfect
and truly exceptional record of aviation capability,"
MAJGEN Kelly said.
CO group commendations were also presented
to Toowoomba's cookery sub-department, the level
four boarding team and TF633 1.1 Logistics Support
Element, which is based in Bahrain.
Job well done
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