For Able Seaman William Roberts, joining the Royal Australian Navy to spend a career sailing the oceans has been the culmination of a lifelong pursuit that has stretched halfway across the world.
Born in north London and raised in north-west England’s Lake District, the boatswains mate joined the RAN in 2016, after emigrating from the United Kingdom in 2010 at age 13.
His parents, teachers James and Alison, sought better opportunities for William and his younger sister in Australia.
Initially settling in Sydney, it wasn’t long before the family found themselves in the rural town of Dalby, three hours’ drive west of Brisbane.
A far cry from the green landscape of the Lake District, Dalby’s 40-degree days were a rude shock to young William.
“I remember my first Australian summer vividly. My family and I had no idea this was what we’d signed up for,” Able Seaman Roberts said.
It was in Dalby that he met his childhood sweetheart, Shanelle. The pair, now living together in Cairns with their dog Alaska, are building their first house.
Able Seaman Roberts’ love of the sea began at a young age, sailing on the North Sea with his father in their 34-foot yacht Charlotte.
“I just fell in love with the ocean and the endless opportunities for exploration,” he said.
It was this love that led him to join the RAN, continuing a proud family history of service. His father and grandfather served in the British Army.
After graduating from Recruit School and category training at HMAS Cerberus, Able Seaman Roberts was posted to Port Services at HMAS Cairns.
Postings to HMA Ships Leeuwin and Melville followed, before his current posting as the starboard crew safety equipment maintainer on board the Cape-class vessel ADV Cape Inscription.
Looking to the future, Able Seaman Roberts aspires to an instructional posting to allow him to continue his passion for training and developing Navy’s next generation.
“I love my job because I feel like I’m out here doing a job that makes a positive difference in our world,” he said.
Reflecting on how far he’s come, Able Seaman Roberts credits the unwavering support of his family and partner Shanelle for enabling him to pursue his dreams on the high seas.