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www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS August 1, 2013
SINCE graduating from New
Entry Officers' Course 48
(NEOC) on June 20, some of my
colleagues and I began the Naval
Officer Year One Engineering Program.
During the six months between
NEOC and the start of our time at the
Australian Defence Force Academy
(ADFA) we are loaned out to various
units across Australia to gain experience
I was completely surprised when I
was told that the scope of experience
would include a five-week sea ride on the
Spanish warship ESPS Cantabria.
On our first day aboard Cantabria we
were issued with life jackets, shown to
our cabins and given a tour of the ship.
We were then briefed on the ship's pro-
gram and welcomed by CO Cantabria
CMDR Jose Luis Nieto.
From the start we knew we were
about to be immersed in a completely
On the second day, we were assigned
watches and started getting into the
swing of the daily routine on board.
From the moment we learned to intro-
duce ourselves in Spanish and ask for
another's name we were making friends.
This was quite easy to do on
Cantabria as the crew is extremely hos-
The importance of picking up some
basic Spanish became increasingly
apparent when "Hombre al Agua" was
announced over the pipes, which caused
a slight look of confusion on the faces
of some of the Australian contingent on
board as Spanish sailors ran to their man-
We spend the majority of our time
aboard Cantabria keeping watches in the
machinery control room and attending
engineering tutorials to learn as much as
we could about the engineering systems.
We were also fortunate in being
able to become involved in some major
From the decks of a Spanish warship, MIDN Luke Spencer shares his
exciting first few months in the Navy.
A first taste of life at sea
exercises. One of the most exciting and
involved evolutions we took part in was
the fuelling at sea of HMA Ships Perth
My colleagues and I had the opportu-
nity to become communication personnel
for Cantabria, relaying vital information
to and from the ships in our company as
We were also given opportunities
to watch the intricate seamanship skills
from the upper decks as the fueling line
was passed from Cantabria to the decks
of two ships at a time.
Other opportunities on board have
included riding in the RHIB as the ship
conducts man-overboard exercises.
Cantabria is a really modern ship
with some systems that will be fitted on
our new warships; ships that I hope to be
posted on when I finish at ADFA.
Being a month at sea doesn't leave
much room for relaxation or recreational
time but the occasional basketball game
in the aircraft hangar -- officers versus
sailors or Australia versus Spain -- pro-
vided some team bonding and a break
from daily routine.
At the start of the sea ride I had tried
to avoid telling anyone about my 18th
birthday and to celebrate afterwards, but
the Spanish and Australian crew would
have none of it and surprised me with a
birthday cake and many congratulations.
As I write this, we are under way to
participate in Exercise Talisman Saber,
where fleet units, including submarines
and aircraft carriers, will be pitted against
each other to complete missions.
I will not forget this experience in a
hurry. This is why I joined Navy, to gain
an education while serving my country,
and I look forward to contributing to
international operations and exercises in
This experience will put me in good
stead for my studies at ADFA, not only
for knowledge gained in engineering
concepts but for the knowledge of what
to expect upon finishing my studies.
SAILING WITH FRIENDS: MIDN Luke Spencer cuts a birthday
cake prepared by Spanish chefs on board ESPS Cantabria for his
ESPS Cantabria took time out
from her Talisman Saber sched-
ule to celebrate the festival of
the Patron Saint of the Spanish
Armada, the Virgin Carmen.
On the morning of July 16,
Cantabria's ship's company and
the RAN contingent on board
participated in an award cer-
emony on the ship´s flight deck to
commemorate the occasion.
CO Cantabria CMDR Jose
Luis Nieto addressed the com-
bined crew and emphasised that
the deployment in Australia had
so far been a success.
He attributed this to the con-
stant dedication and the magnifi-
cent team spirit on board.
He also thanked all members
of the ship´s company for their
personal sacrifices being so far
away from their homeland and
The ceremony concluded with
the Spanish Armada hymn.
Patron saint honoured by Cantabria
TIME FOR REFLECTION: Spanish and RAN personnel pause to celebrate the festival of the patron
saint of the Spanish Armada, the Virgin Carmen, on July 16.
NEW EXPERIENCE: RAN personnel enjoy a walk along ESPS Cantabria's
deck before heading to Talisman Saber.
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