Growing up in Kilmore Zara Comi was unsure what career path to take but she knew she wanted to travel and explore the world.
The former Assumption College student has gone along way to fulfilling her dream as a crew member on board HMAS Stuart. Zara is a Maritime Logistics Steward with the Royal Australian Navy.
“I have been in for 3 years and everyday has a new challenge,” Zara said.
Onboard Zara’s role is in many ways similar to working in the hotel industry, she works both front and back of house during meal service, organises official functions and dinners, coordinates event management and also does day-to-day cleaning around the ship; all of this in a combat environment.
The steward branch also runs a canteen onboard in order to supply Ship’s Company with basic supplies like toothpaste, soap and other essentials as well as soft drinks, lollies and even souvenirs like ship’s caps etc. The canteen is a crucial part of maintaining morale onboard during long deployments away from the luxury of a corner store or a supermarket.
Zara’s role as a Maritime Logistic Steward is not her only role; she is also trained as a member of the Ship’s Medical Emergency Team.
She is part of the flight deck team which runs helicopter operations when the aircraft is launching or landing, winching personnel to and from the aircraft or refuelling the aircraft in the air. Doing flying operations at sea and whilst moving can be a dangerous and exciting task at the best of times. Zara is also a trained member of the boarding party and has been trained in using a 9mm pistol and the 5.56mm Steyr assault rifle. Finally, as with every sailor onboard a warship she can effectively fight fires, floods and toxic hazards.
“Not in a million years could I have imagined I could be in such a dynamic role. On any given day I could be serving lunch to the officers and yet five minutes later I could be dressed into full flighting suit training to fight a fire in the main machinery space,” Zara said.
During her time in the Navy she has served on HMAS Anzac, HMAS Sydney, HMAS Choules. Since joining the Navy she has lived in Melbourne, Sydney and at the end of the year will be moving to Cairns.
“During my time in the Navy I have circumnavigated Australia and stopped at every major city in Australia and I am now heading overseas for operations,” Zara said.
“Being in the navy allows me to achieve something different every day and in my current posting I have had a flight in a Seahawk, I have jumped into the deep blue ocean from the side of the ship, I have helped berth a ship pulling alongside a wharf, helped to clean in and around the main engines, conducted small arms firings off the back of the ship and so much more,” she said.
“I have met so many different people from all around Australia and I consider the crew of HMAS Stuart my navy family.
“We spent Christmas, New Years and Easter together at sea and our golden rule is: one in, all in! I share a mess (or cabin) with twelve other girls and I consider them as my sea-sisters. They are the people you know will cheer you up and support you when you have had a hard day.
“Stuart is my home away from home. I have learned that when you put your mind to something you can achieve anything and the Navy has given me so many opportunities to prove it,” Zara said. HMAS Stuart is due to return to Fleet Base East Sydney on Sunday after a three and a half month deployment.