Maintaining a neat and professional appearance with perfectly coiffed locks is often a challenge for naval officers and sailors deployed at sea.

Gone are the days of do-it-yourself shavers and trimmers thanks to self-taught amateur barbers who volunteer their time to clean up their shipmates.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Steven Collie is one example, having opened Stevie C’s Barbershop in HMAS Ballarat during the frigate’s Indian Ocean Deployment.

Able Seaman Collie grew up in Katherine, Northern Territory, and moved to Port Stevens before joining the Navy. He serves as a refrigeration and air-conditioning maintainer in Ballarat.

He started his side 'business' during Ballarat’s pre-deployment work-ups in Sydney, and his customers kept coming.

“One of the ship’s marine technicians asked me to cut their hair into a buzz-cut - nice and easy,” Able Seaman Collie said.

“When I was cutting his hair, I was saying how good it would be to cut hair more often, and then one of the boys in the workshop said I could cut his hair too. 

“Once I did his hair, another two sailors came into the workshop to get their hair cut, and from then on I just kept cutting hair and getting better at it. 

“I bought my own haircutting gear and started cutting with scissors too.” 

During the ship’s most recent deployment, the barber shop usually started after dinner, with each haircut fine-tuned to a swift 30 minutes, depending on the choice of hairstyle.

Able Seaman Collie admitted his monopoly thrived during COVID-19 because Ballarat’s crew members were not able to leave the ship for a haircut during port visits. 

He charges $10 a haircut, with all proceeds donated to the ship’s welfare fund. 

Able Seaman Collie trimmed beards and cut women’s hair as well, but confessed to making a few unintentional errors during his professional skills development. 

“With male haircuts I can reference hairdressers or barbers that have cut my hair, but with females I don’t really have a reference,” Able Seaman Collie said.

“When a female requested a bob-styled haircut, I had a crack and went far too high because she still wanted some length to put it in a ponytail.

“The same thing happened the second time but it worked out in the end. She loved it, and I had the bob-style worked out as planned by the third time.”