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James Brown - Alice Springs

There’s nothing light on about 27 year old James Brown’s career.

Joining the Royal Australian Navy to build on his trade as a light vehicle mechanic, James, now an Able Seaman Marine Technician specialises in high power marine mechanics in the Navy’s Armidale Class Patrol Boats.

“I enjoyed my job as an auto mechanic but essentially, all petrol cars are the same,” he said.

“The Navy appealed to me because of the large variety of ships and systems and as a ‘Stoker’ I have really broadened my skills and experience.”

James was born in Melbourne but with 10 years living in Alice Springs – and now his current posting to Darwin based patrol boat crew, Attack Three – the NT claims him as their own.

As a member of Attack Three, James is now one of approximately 500 Defence Force personnel deployed in Operation RESOLUTE, the ADF contribution to Australia’s whole of government maritime border security effort.

The patrol boats and their crew of 21 provide surveillance and response to counter eight distinct maritime threats including; terrorism, people smuggling, illegal fishing, prohibited imports and exports, quarantine risks, pollution and piracy.

It’s a big job in a time of unparalleled maritime arrivals at the border.

“As a Stoker, we operate and maintain all running machinery and equipment onboard a patrol boat, including the waste systems, refrigeration and the ship’s propulsion.

“But I am also a member of the boarding party and when we board a foreign vessel, I’m put in charge of the engineering of that vessel.

“One of my most memorable moments working in patrol boats has been conducting nine successful boardings in 12 days.”

James was awarded an Operational Service Medal – Border Protection last November in the first presentation of the medals by the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC.

“It was an honour to be among the first recipients of the medal,” he said.

“It can be challenging work but at the end of the day we’re actually contributing and doing our bit for the country and protecting Australian borders – that’s a good feeling.”