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July 5, 2012
CPL Max Bree
WHEN a propeller and driveshaft
flash red on a monitoring screen in
HMAS Toowoomba's machinery
control room, the stokers spring into
LS Anthony Ellison, the marine
systems controller, spots a pressure
drop in the starboard oil distribution
box that feeds fluid to change the pitch
of the ship's propeller blades.
The propeller's pitch is backed off
and the team sent to investigate find a
split hydraulic line with fluid gushing
into the bilge.
LS Ellison sits in front of the con-
trol and monitoring system that keeps
track of the ship's engines, power,
ventilation, fire suppression and
alarm systems with more than 4500
But LS Ellison is also one of
Toowoomba's marine technicians,
better know as stokers, who repair
and maintain the ship's engines and
It will be his second trip to the
Middle East when Toowoomba returns
there at the end of the year.
"I was with the engineering board-
ing team guys in 2009," he said. "You
always have to have an engineering
team with the boarding party.
"The first thing we need to do is
make sure the engines are stopped and
check the condition of the engines.
"We're naturals in an engineering
room as we know what we're looking
for."The engineering command team
arrive to take over the control room as
LS Ellison goes with the other stokers
to the engine compartments.
"Anything I can't do by myself,
floods, fires, famines ... we get the
engineering department down here,"
LS Ellison said.
PO Stuart Hall, with the command
team, informs the bridge the ship
needs to be stopped. Then the stokers
below lock in the propeller pitch to
the maximum ahead setting so the ship
can get underway at speed if needed.
The bridge tells PO Hall that due to
heavy traffic the repairs will have to be
finished so the ship can get underway.
"Right, we've got about 10 min-
utes!" PO Hall yells to the rest of the
According to LS Ellison, whenever
there is an emergency, the stokers are
the ones the crew want on the job.
"Every time there's been an inci-
dent every one stands aside and the
stokers go straight through," he said.
With the broken hose replaced, a
stoker radios the control room saying
he will rotate the turning gear using
the motor to remove the last lock-pin
holding the propeller pitch.
"Go ahead, we need to set the
clutch back to normal to get going,"
PO Hall barks back.
The stokers return to the control
room, the exercise is over.
Stokers take control
CPL Max Bree
MEDICS on HMAS Toowoomba won't let the
messy side of their profession stop them from
doing all they can to look after their crewmates.
The ship's senior medic, POMED Jason
Richardson, is no stranger to what's inside the
"I could tell this guy was going to throw up
so I was trying to get him out the door and to
the toilet," he said, adding that he didn't quite
PO Richardson will be joined on the
deployment by junior medic ABMED Karney
Armstrong, who experienced treating a shark
attack victim at HMAS Stirling in 2010.
"When the paramedics took the wrapping
off it wasn't a flap (of skin), it was just gone,"
"It looked very nice, like one of the models
you have at medical school ... but it was bad
for the patient.
"She needed 200 stitches and they pulled
two shark teeth out of her behind."
This will be the third Middle East deploy-
ment for PO Richardson and the first for AB
Armstrong, whose mother went to the Middle
East with HMAS Kanimbla's Army detachment
"I watched her leave and now she's going to
watch me leave," she said.
A medical officer and 12 advanced first-
aiders will make up the rest of Toowoomba's
medical response team that spreads throughout
the ship at action stations.
When it comes to casualties aboard the ship,
PO Richardson said everyone was happy to
make way for the medics.
"People have their look and then think 'Oh
I'm not a medic I better stand aside'," he said.
"If you look after the crew as best you can
with what you have the crew respects you."
BACK TO HEALTH: ABMED Karney
Armstrong and POMED Jason Richardson
treat a patient in Toowoomba's sick bay.
Photo: CPL Max Bree
SEARCH AND REPAIR: AB Jarrod Davison and LS Anthony
Ellison search for the source of an electrical fault in the
Photo: CPL Max Bree
Green thumbs and guns
CPL Max Bree
FORGET saving trees, the greenies
on HMAS Toowoomba are more inter-
ested in electronics and sending 5-inch
shells up to 23.8km at the enemy.
The ship's electronics technicians,
better known as greenies, maintain the
electric systems while some branch out
and look after Toowoomba's weapons.
LS Mark Baker used to fix 76mm
anti-air guns on frigates and recently
transferred to Toowoomba's gun crew.
"We're the guys who make big stuff
like this work," he said. "We do elec-
tronics courses then we go on to do
hydraulic and pneumatic stuff.
"It's basically a hybrid between a
greenie and a stoker."
Toowoomba's 5-inch gun can fire
14-20 solid or high explosive shells a
minute at aircraft and land targets,
something LS Baker said he would not
want to be on the receiving end of.
"I'd be running away as fast as I
could," he said. "For large shells
they're very accurate."
The shells are brought up from
the magazine through a tube, rotat-
ed around a drum then individually
swung up 90 degrees by a hydraulic
arm and slammed into the gun breech
ready for electronic firing.
The gun can be operated and fired
remotely or from a compartment
under the gun.
According to LS Baker, the term
greenie came from the green stripes
once worn in between the yellow bars
on electronics officers' rank slides.
HOLD FIRE: LS Mark Baker tries to fix an electronic
fault with the ship's 5-inch gun.
Photo: CPL Max Bree
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