Leading Seaman Benyam Gormiesa had a significant introduction to the role of officer of the watch when he navigated Australian Defence Vessel Cape Inscription through the Great Barrier Reef.

Having completed the Small Ships Navigation Course at HMAS Watson, Leading Seaman Gormiesa is now working towards a Limited Navigation Watchkeeping Certificate (LNWC).

This certificate will allow Leading Seaman Gormiesa to perform the duties of the officer of the watch on single-ship operations in the open ocean by day or night.

“Navigation has always been an area of interest to me,” he said.

“My perspective on the bridge has rapidly changed as I hold more responsibility and have to manage manoeuvres while safely navigating the ship.

“The level of responsibility is very high for all sailors and officers on patrol boats, and you can really expand your horizons.

“I appreciate the number of different roles and responsibilities I am able to assume on board at such an early stage of my career."

My perspective on the bridge has rapidly changed.

Navigating Officer of Cape Inscription Lieutenant Mollie Burns manages the on-board training of sailors completing their LNWC and junior maritime warfare officers.

“Doubling up with an officer of the watch during a reef transit and taking the controls is an intimidating prospect when starting out as a ship driver,” Lieutenant Burns said.

“It is a busy and dynamic navigation environment which provides excellent experience for our qualified and trainee bridge watchkeepers.”

The LNWC course was once only offered at HMAS Watson in Sydney, but now it can also be completed at HMAS Coonawarra and HMAS Cairns in northern Australia.

The change allows sailors to develop navigation skills at their home bases so they don’t have to travel, quarantine or spend time away from their ship and families.