Outback promotions for sailors

Able Seaman Laura Willemse and Leading Seaman Christopher Taylor were promoted at a ceremony in Alice Springs. Photo: Captain James Saint

Outback promotions for sailors

Two Darwin-based sailors were recently promoted at a ceremony in Alice Springs, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest ocean.

Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Christopher Taylor and Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Supply Chain Laura Willemse received their new rank slides on Anzac Hill overlooking Alice Springs while deployed on Operation COVID-19 Assist last month.

“Normally I would have been promoted on a ship or ashore in Darwin,” Leading Seaman Taylor said.

“But to be promoted this far from the ocean – and in the middle of Australia – is really a once-in-a-career opportunity.”

Able Seaman Willemse said she was incredibly proud the ceremony was held on Anzac Hill by the memorial dedicated to all those who have served in the defence of Australia.

“It was the highlight of my deployment, and likely my career,” she said.

The rank slides were presented by the Navy Liaison Officer to the Joint Task Group (NT), Captain Melanie Verho, and the Officer Commanding the Joint Task Unit (NT southern region), Major James Hill.

The ceremony drew a small crowd of curious observers who had gathered to watch the sunset. 

Leading Seaman Taylor and Able Seaman Willemse had swapped the turquoise of the Timor Sea for the ochre of central Australia when they deployed on Operation COVID-19 Assist, during which they were stationed at various isolated border entry checkpoints supporting the Northern Territory Police. 

“I’ve really enjoyed working in remote locations in a different role,” Leading Seaman Taylor said. 

“It has been great getting to know the Army and Air Force members out here as well as the police.”

Able Seaman Willemse was captivated by the colours and the vast emptiness of central Australia.

“This is my first time in the outback and the scenery and landscape are just incredible,” she said.


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