Growing up on Queensland’s Whitsunday Coast has built a strong connection to the sea for 21-year-old David Hawkins of Grasstree Beach near Mackay.
David is a Navy midshipman and currently undergoing officer training at the Naval College, HMAS Creswell, on Jervis Bay south of Sydney.
After finishing year 12 at the Whitsunday Anglican School, David worked for a year in a lawyer’s office.
"My boss and the people I worked with were great, but law just didn't have enough excitement for me," he said.
He is now training to become a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Navy.
A key part of the New Entry Officer Course (NEOC) is a sea training deployment, and during the current program the New Entry Officers joined HMAS Choules on a voyage to New Zealand.
"I'm looking forward to becoming a Maritime Warfare Officer so I can drive big ships - I am looking forward to getting a feel for that during our sea training," David said.
"Most importantly though is getting to see all the departments, and working with the sailors—there is so much to learn and the sailors have got so much they can teach us," he said.
NEOC is the foundation course where the Navy’s newest Officers study diverse topics including naval history, Navy customs, protocols and procedures, small boat handling and weapons handling, before heading on to specific qualification training.
"The best thing about NEOC has been learning to drive the rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), which are kind of big jetski," David said.
"We had amazing weather, with dolphins everywhere," he added.
After completing NEOC in June, MIDN Hawkins and a number of his colleagues will commence maritime warfare training at HMAS Watson.
Choules visited New Zealand as part of training program for over 100 embarked Junior Officers currently undertaking their NEOC.
Choules is a Royal Australian Navy Landing Ship Dock class capable of amphibious operations and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster relief throughout the region.