Australian Navy’s junior sailors master amphibious watercraft

Australia’s amphibious ships are driving responsibility and challenges to all levels of the crew, with leading seamen taking ‘commanding’ roles on the new landing craft.

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Edward Holcombe is one of those sailors, in charge of one of HMAS Adelaide’s landing craft – critical to the operational capability of the ‘mother-ship’.

The craft are used to land and retrieve troops, vehicles and equipment on beaches as part of Adelaide’s amphibious capabilities.

With four craft on board they can project 80 per cent of the amphibious power of the ship.

They can carry 175 troops with packs and rifles, a range of plant machinery or light vehicles.

After serving as a deckhand on minor war vessels and an officer-of-the-watch on patrol boats, Leading Seaman Holcombe is now in charge of a four person crew.

Soldiers of HMAS Adelaide’s Amphibious Beach Element bring equipment ashore from an LHD Landing Craft, to prepare a landing site for vehicle transfer, in Jervis Bay, NSW. Photo: Australian Navy

He said that his experience was enhanced through further training in the Small Ships’ Navigation Course, basic and advanced Land Craft operations courses, and cargo handling components at Sydney shore establishments.

“I came across after the platform courses, ready to hit the ground running as part of the commissioning crew,” Leading Seaman Holcombe said.

“It’s our boat. We maintain, operate and have everything to do with it, where all crew positions on the craft are filled by junior sailors.

“This includes a marine technician as the engineer, and two able seamen boatswains mates,” he said.

Originally joining the Royal Australian Navy as a diver, Leading Seaman Holcombe said he enjoyed working with a wide range of Defence personnel and the responsibility of his new role in Adelaide.