HMAS Melbourne visits Eden

When HMAS Melbourne stopped in at Eden to deammunition on Thursday, it provided a welcome chance for the crew to explore the town and its surroundings.

But for one of the men on board, it was an opportunity to catch up with friends and family.

Lincoln Barratt’s military journey began at Eden Marine High School, where he completed two courses that have helped him rise to the rank of Able Seaman, 18 months into his Navy career.

“It was a new thing the school had just brought in where every second Thursday, you went to TAFE,” Lincoln said.

“I just thought I’d give it a go because I didn’t know what career path I wanted to go down at the time.

“In Year 11 I did my general purpose hand training, and then in Year 12 I did the coxswain, which allows you to manoeuvre a 38-foot vessel, and It all escalated into me joining the Navy.”

Usually a member of the crew of HMAS Newcastle, Lincoln has been loaned to HMAS Melbourne to help bring the ship home to Sydney, allowing exhausted crew members a bit of relaxation after a long operation.

He said he has enjoyed the opportunity to work on board a different ship, and said the opportunity to constantly meet new people is one of the main attractions of a life at sea.

“It is very hard being away from my family, but the Navy is like a second family,” Lincoln said. 

“They’re just like no other people; you live together, you work together, you do everything together. 

“It’s a career path where you meet so many new people, but you keep all your old friends and stay in contact with everyone.

“Wherever you go, you have friends in the Navy.”

Like Lincoln, HMAS Melbourne Commanding Officer Brian Schlegel joined the Navy straight from school.

He commended the programs in place at Eden Marine High School, saying it helps put young career on a solid career path that can last a lifetime.

“Most of us who are here now are someone who has come through a similar sort of system,” Commander Schlegel said.

“I always remember when I was at school, there would be other kids in the class being granted scholarships for things like ADFA, or other forms of financial assistance.

“In fact, one of those guys I’m talking about is still in the Navy today, 30 years later, so of course it’s a good system; it’s fantastic.”

While he is only able to get home two or three times per year, Lincoln has been able to see plenty of the world in a short space of time.

He said that while he initially planned on joining Customs and Border Protection after leaving school, he is happy with his decision and wouldn’t change anything.

“I’ve always liked the ocean and I developed an interest in working on boats, so here I am today in the Navy,” Lincoln said.

“Over the year-and-a-half I’ve been overseas a bit, and I’ve gone all around Australia.

“I recently went down to Hobart for a Navy open day on HMAS Tobruk, so I’ve been travelling around a fair bit lately.”

Next stop for Lincoln and the crew is Sydney, with the ship to return to her home port tomorrow.

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