After a stint in a civilian job working on robotic simulations in medical environments, Randwick’s Louella Yu stuck with the technology theme but joined the Royal Australian Navy as a weapons electrical engineering officer.
Sub-Lieutenant Yu, 26, had finished her Mechatronics Engineering degree at UTS Sydney, but was pretty sure she didn’t want a regular office job.
This Christmas, she will be a long way from a regular office – taking part in border protection operations onboard HMAS Parramatta, assigned to Operation Resolute.
Now, she finds herself working on anything from managing the ship’s weapons systems to coordinating the daily systems operating tests that confirm the status of the ship’s systems.
Along the way, she might pick up number of other jobs that regular engineers may never encounter, such as being responsible for the ship’s public relations activities when visiting foreign ports.
Louella has been in the Navy for less than two years and is four months into her very first deployment on board a warship. She has already been involved in some major incidents and describes responding to a sinking ship, full of passengers, as one of the most intense experiences of her short career.
Her involvement in Operation Resolute has already earned an Operational Service Medal and she hopes to continue her career to a higher level position in the Weapons Electrical Engineering field – hopefully close to Sydney, where she can see her family and friends.
“We always have a goodbye dinner and chocolate in Randwick before I leave and it has almost become a superstitious ritual,” said Louella.
It will be a while before Louella gets the chance to enjoy another dinner and chocolate with friends and family, as she’ll spend this Christmas on the ship. However, she feels it is all worth it.
“We’ll make a big deal out of Christmas on the ship. We will eat the usual Christmas foods, exchange presents and put up decorations.
“Even though I will miss catching up with my family, it feels like we are all contributing to the bigger picture out here,” she said.