As far as small businesses go, the canteen in HMAS Arunta is punching well above its weight.

This year, the canteen has contributed $60,000 to the ship’s welfare fund.

Acting Canteen Manager Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics Support Operations Luke Gibbons said the money was being put to good use.

“The ship’s welfare fund is drawn upon to make small but significant improvements to the various messes on board,” Leading Seaman Gibbons said.  

“For instance, new televisions have been purchased for various recreation spaces, as well as further entertainment equipment for the junior sailors’ mess.

“This is probably one of the main reasons that the canteen is so popular; the crew see that the profits are reinvested into the people contributing.”

Besides the usual fare on offer in a ship’s canteen, such as snacks and drinks, Arunta also does a roaring trade in various ship’s merchandise, including hoodies, beanies, singlets, sport shirts and drink holders.

Leading Seaman Gibbons said it was all part of a plan to get Arunta’s name out. 

“When the commanding officer posted into Arunta, he really wanted to get brand Arunta out on the streets,” Leading Seaman Gibbons said.

“This would serve to promote the name and reputation of the ship, both in Fleet Base West and on the east coast.”

Another initiative implemented by the canteen staff to widen its range of goods available involves taking bulk orders for various US Navy Exchange (NEX) stores during port visits.

“Because we can’t go ashore during these visits, we bring the NEX experience on board,” Leading Seaman Gibbons said.

“And while this may seem counterproductive in terms of canteen profits, it gives morale on board a huge boost because it opens up the range of products our shipmates can purchase.”

Leading Seaman Gibbons said canteen management also made a conscious effort to support local businesses in the ship’s home state. 

“We are keen to keep it local as much as we can by supporting Western Australian small businesses,” he said.

For the past five months, Arunta has had a busy schedule, participating in the Regional Presence Deployment across South-East Asia and the Pacific, incorporating the Rim of the Pacific Exercise off Hawaii in August

Arunta is conducting an east Asia deployment and will return to her home port later this year.