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Ci-Anna Smith - Hobart

A Hobart girl up-gunned her working life when she decided to trade retail work for seaborne artillery.

Leading Seaman (LS) Electronic Technician Ci-Anna Smith is deployed aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling the Middle East on Operation Manitou, Australia's contribution to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

The ship is operating in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf with CMF's Combined Task Force 150, whose mission is to intercept shipments of illegal drugs used to help fund terrorism.

LS Smith left her job in retail to join the Navy in 2008 and is now a Gun Maintainer in the Australian warship.

One of her favourite pieces of equipment to work on is the 76mm naval gun, which is one of Melbourne's biggest weapons, capable of firing up to 80 rounds per minute to a range of eight nautical miles.

The gun is used in anti-aircraft and anti-surface roles.

LS Smith said Defence Force Recruiting persuaded her to be a sailor and she was very happy with the career choice, even if it meant breaking a family tradition.

"My grandfather was in the Army as a baker during World War II and my brother is currently serving as a trooper in an Army cavalry unit," she said.

"I decided to be a gun maintainer because the weapons have hydraulics, mechanics and electronics all rolled into one.

"I needed to learn a lot about the different systems.

"I get to see the start of the operation to the end result, from when the round is placed in the rack and goes through the complete system before it is fired.

"If one part is out of alignment, even by a small amount, it can stop the gun working.

"My job is to make sure it works perfectly."

LS Smith spent close to eight months in trade training, followed by a year working on her competency log book to prepare for her chosen career.

She first served on the amphibious operations support ship HMAS Tobruk and was deployed on Operation Samoa Assist after the tsunami in 2009.

LS Smith later served in the frigate HMAS Sydney during a tour of South East Asia.

This was followed by a posting to sister-ship HMAS Newcastle, and then transferred to her third Adelaide-class frigate HMAS Melbourne in 2014.

LS Smith said it was a rewarding experience to be on Operation Manitou.

"I have a major stance against drugs in our society." she said.

"I am very glad we are helping to stop the illegal drug trade and stopping the heroin from going into the arms of kids in Australia and elsewhere in the world.

"It also means the money is not helping to fund international terrorism or buy weapons."

On Melbourne's first patrol of 2015, the crew intercepted, boarded and searched a fishing dhow suspected of illegal activity in the Arabian Sea.

During the search 427kg of heroin was seized and brought onboard for identification and disposal.

The value of the drugs was close $127m AUD.

LS Smith said Melbourne's crew are a close-knit team.

"We stick together and whenever any of the guys or girls needs someone as a buddy for a port visit we just grab them and take them with us," she said.

"I enjoy my job, but my partner, Able Seaman Pia Bartle, is serving in Newcastle, which Melbourne relieved for Operation Manitou, so we have spent a lot of time apart.

"The highlight of my deployment was when Pia was flown by Sea Hawk from Newcastle with the command team for us to catch-up when the ships were passing in the Arabian Gulf."