Dave Lassam - Always training

Running time
3 min 51 sec
Date made
Place made

Department of Veterans' Affairs


I still remember the day I joined, she was in drydock at the time but still you look up and there's this huge ship. When you consider it next to American ships it's tiny, however, pretty big to me. And we're in drydock, so we had to live on board, but you had to shower and use the ablutions ashore which was a bit of a pain, as you can imagine, because back in those days, we didn't have tanks that store all the grey water and black water, it just used to go over the side.

Now, people shock horror and things like that but back in those days, that is how it was done. The ships was actually designed in World War Two wasn't built until 55 and you can't change much of that, the plumbing and so forth without getting a new ship really. So while she was in drydock, you couldn't do that you had to go ashore and we used to have to live on the ship, doesn't matter.

The only reason you didn't is if you're married, and you could live off ship but if you're a single bloke like I was, you lived on the ship the whole time. She came out of drydock, we went to sea and once I got the hang of it, it was great and we did. she was always known as a bit of a jinx ship, you've probably heard about Melbourne, she unfortunately had two collisions back in 64 and 68 and a lot of people killed.

It has been proven that Melbourne was not at fault. The ships, the smaller ships drove straight underneath her, and you can't stop a carrier, so, but I thought immediately I thought, you know, I've really copped it here, I've got the crap job but I loved it, I absolutely loved it. The first sea posting, well, before you go to sea, before you deploy on a deployment, you have to do what's called workups and they prepare the ship for being at war.

So you'll have other ships to practice with, you'll have gunnery, and of course, we had aircraft. So we're launching aircraft all the time, you'd be doing it 24 hours a day because that's how you do it. And so you had to get used to the fact that you'd be you might be the flight deck medic, which we've rotated through that, but I did it many times. And you have to be awake for 24 hours. And if you grab a quick kip while you could, you're allowed to have someone wake you up so that the medic could watch every launch and landing.

Now the reason we did that was because if there was an accident, and there were a few on board, and you're the medic, and you see what happens, it does give that little bit more information as to what might have happened to the crew person that's been injured. If something crashes into the deck and just blows up and fire, well, you know, you're gonna have burns and so forth and you can quickly give first aid at a point before you can get them to the sickbay.

So you have to watch every take-off and landing and that can be quite can get boring, but it can get very exciting very quickly and it did several times that I was on board, had a couple of planes crash and bits come flying off and flying down the deck which is not a good thing. But after you've done your work and you've passed the test, you have a team come on, like you have to pass the test.

So doesn't matter who the captain is, there's a team that come on, and they just do everything and check every department. And so we're always training. Even when we'd finish that you go somewhere else and you're always training. They'd suddenly pull a drill, fire drill at midnight or something, that's not a nice thing, but they would do it because it happens, stuff happens and you can get caught.


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