Serving the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, receiving an Australia Day medallion and being posted to Navy’s newest and largest ship, 2014 is shaping up to be a year of highlights for Seacliff local, Ashlee Shepheard.
Joining the Navy in March 2012, Ashlee completed her initial recruit and specialist training in Victoria. Ashlee is now an Able Seaman Steward and has been posted to her first ship which is Navy’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), NUSHIP Canberra.
"This is my first posting to a ship. Prior to this I was posted to Navy’s warfare officer training base HMAS Watson and I was given the opportunity to be a Valet and work some wonderful functions throughout the International Fleet Review last year," Ashlee said.
"As a Steward my job involves preparing and working at functions and serving officers. However those jobs expand at sea and we also become part of the ship’s medical emergency team, we take part in the first response to any emergency or incident onboard and on smaller ships such as frigates, we also become part of the ship’s flight deck team."
Earlier this year, Ashlee was selected to undertake duties as part of a small team of people to look after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Australia. She said it was a privilege and highlight.
"I had the opportunity to serve the Royal Family in their suite. It was a once in a life time experience – I feel very lucky to have been selected to do this.
"It was our job to see that their every need was met and provide them the highest level of service we could and their appreciation for our work was humbling."
This year started off with a huge surprise for Ashlee when she was awarded the Australia Day Medallion for her superior dedication to duty and professionalism during her work last year at the Navy’s warfare officer training establishment, HMAS Watson.
"I was very surprised to receive this award but also very proud," Ashlee said.
Amongst all the excitement and opportunity Ashlee has been afforded during her short time in the Navy, she still misses her family.
"My mum and sister are like my best friends and I miss having all my family close by. Home is always going to be a special place but I believe I have so much growing to do and there is so much more I want to achieve," she said.
Being posted Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock ship, there are certainly challenges ahead for Able Seaman Shepheard.
The largest vessel ever built for Navy, the ship has a tri-service ship's company of about 380 people. Canberra will be able to conduct amphibious operations including landing a force of over 1,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores. The ship is also designed to carry out and support disaster relief and humanitarian missions.
Ashlee attended All Saints Primary and then Tatachilla Lutheran College in McLaren Vale. Prior to starting her career in the Navy she worked locally in hospitality jobs and a local hardware store.
She looks forward to seeing her family from Seacliff at NUSHIP Canberra’s commissioning ceremony in Sydney later this year.