- A.N. Other
- None noted
- RAN Ships
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- March 2022 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
By MIDN Lloyd Skinner RAN
The Navy Gap Year program was established to provide Sailor and Officer recruits the opportunity to undertake a ‘try before you buy’ approach to a Navy career. There is a short return of service obligation of one year and Gap Year members can try a variety of career options should they be unsure of what role they want to pursue.
I commissioned into the Navy on 24 January 2020, attending Officer training at HMAS Creswell until June. We shared the same experience as other New Entry Officers until graduation where we selected our preferred Naval establishment across Australia that we desired to be posted to. Having not been to Sydney before and after being told it provided the largest breadth and depth of exposure into opportunities offered in the Navy, I selected HMAS Kuttabul as my posting option.
Prior to my posting at Sydney, my work on the New Entry Officer Course history essay competition was awarded with the Naval Historical Society prize at our graduation parade. The award gave me the opportunity to meet Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan who invited me aboard NUSHIP Sydney for its commissioning, which was an unforgettable experience.
After arriving at Kuttabul, the Sydney region Gap Year coordinator had me post aboard HMAS Adelaide with five other Gap Year members in which we undertook our sea phase. This was a very insightful and enjoyable experience where we learnt of life at sea, of various career options, and of other crew members’ recommendations about what to career opportunities to pursue.
Following a five-week stint on the LHD, I was afforded some choice of where I wanted to undertake work placement. When exploring the Kuttabul Daily Mail, I read the Naval Historical Society’s ‘Call the Hands’ newsletter, I discovered the volunteer opportunities at the Naval Historical Society’s office building at Garden Island, not a far distance from where I was living at Kuttabul. The President, David Michael, has provided me with very interesting opportunities since then, enabling me to pursue my passion of historical research and essay writing. He also organised various historical trips around Garden Island and to Spectacle Island.
In between the two periods at the Naval Historical Society, some other locations I undertook work experience at included the Navy Innovation Cell, role-playing for the Tactical Assault Group and the 2nd Commando Regiment at Holsworthy Barracks, five weeks spent aboard the minehunter, HMAS Yarra and with the Australian Clearance Diving Team One at HMAS Waterhen.
The entire Navy Gap Year experience has been very enjoyable. I have fulfilled all expectations for what I thought the year would entail and feel that I have undergone significant personal, emotional and professional growth because of my experiences. This is not to mention the fun and enjoyment I have had during the year as well.