Two Bundaberg diggers getting a sea change
THERE is more to being in the Army Reserve than the government-supplied camping gear and the occasional flight in a Blackhawk helicopter - and two Bundaberg soldiers are about to be the perfect example of what that is.
Part-time Bundaberg soldiers privates Ian Lenkeit and Corey Otto from the 9th Battalion Royal Queensland Regiment (9RQR) are about the be deployed for six months on Operation Sovereign Borders, providing the assistance the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been asking from its reservists for decades.
Army reservists are a dedicated group of men and women and for them to fit time in their lives to wear the uniform is a major commitment, most training exercises are done on weekends with the soldiers leaving their depots after a full week at work.
Pte Lenkeit and Pte Otto have been conducting specialist training at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria in preparation to be a crewman on an Armidale Class patrol boat serving in the protection of Australia's borders.
The majority of training Pte Lenkeit and Pte Otto have done in their time wearing the uniform of the ADF has been based around infantry operations, and the world they are about to step in to will be a long way from what they have experienced.
Heavy packs, sleeping on the ground and eating from ration packs won't be a factor as they adapt to the new challenges of cramped conditions, not being able to see land and the stark differences of working closely with the navy.
Pte Lenkeit is eager to sail off on the deployment but like soldiers before him, he faces the difficulty of leaving a family at home.
He said that has been the most difficult part to prepare for.
"We have been making sure we have been discussing it openly and honestly," Pte Lenkeit said.
"Just making sure that we are aware that it is six months away - we will have contact but we are aware that it might not be for a couple of weeks at a time."
The pair will be based in Darwin and patrol the waters to the north of Australia in what can be the best time of year weather wise in the top end.
Pte Otto said his biggest challenge he will face on patrol is that if he intercepts a people smuggler vessel and he has to find ways to deal with people in a difficult part of their lives.
Regardless of what roles they have to perform while they are away, Pte Lenkeit and Pte Otto will continue the traditions laid out by generations of reservists who have gone before them.
Displacement: 300 tonnes
Propulsion: Two MTU 4000 16V 6225-horsepower (4642 kW) diesels driving twin propellers
Speed: 25 knots (46 kmh; 29 mph)
Range: 3000 nautical miles (5600km) at 12 knots (22 kmh; 14 mph)
Endurance: 21 days standard, 42 days maximum
Armament: One Rafael Typhoon stabilised gun mount fitted with a 25mm (1 in) M242 Bushmaster autocannon; two 12.7mm (0.5 in) machine guns.