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Communication and Information Systems Submariner


My name’s Able Seaman O’Brien. I’m 27 years of age from
Manchester, England. And I’m a communications
information systems sailor on board HMAS Collins. We are responsible for sending
and receiving messages or signal traffic to and
from the submarine. It does make you
feel important. And most communicators on board
ships and submarines are respected by the rest of the
crew anyway, just based on what they know. We know things that other
people don’t know about. And they know that. And you do get a certain amount
of respect from people. You’re always working with
commanders as well. So they know you on a personal
basis as well because you’re the one feeding them the
information sort of thing. So you’re working with
them all the time. When we come up to periscope
depth, we’ll have a broadcast that comes in. And we’ll basically just poke
up a communications mast out of the water. And we’ll receive
our broadcasts. That broadcast will contain a
whole heap of information. It could be anything
from weather reports to stored signals. It could be intelligence
reports, anything from the unclassified level right up
to the top secret level. So as a communicator, you hold
top secret clearance on board. Everything that leaves a
submarine and comes into the submarine goes through us. And that’s why we have to have
top secret clearance because you could see anything
basically. When we go on deployment, our
job becomes even more secret than what it normally
is, depending on what you’re doing. Information that we see on a
daily basis, some of it is quite interesting. And communicators, they’re not
just limited to working on board a ship. So if they actually get shore
postings, they can work in communication centres. They can be on a
boarding team. Every part of defence needs
communications. And they need communicators. So it’s a good job to be in if
you don’t want to be stuck in the one place. I actually took a tour of
Collins when I was younger. And now I’m serving on it. So it’s a bit weird,
bit surreal. But, yeah, I’ve have always
had an interest in subs. And, yeah, I pretty much left
straight out of school to be a submariner. Submarines will do more exciting
things than what ships will. And, therefore, the information
will we be a bit more sensitive on the subs
that what it is on ships. You do 11 weeks of basic
training and recruit school. Once you’ve finished that, then
you’ll go on to do your communications tier
one course. And when I was doing it,
it went for a year. And now it only goes
for 40 weeks. So they’ve shortened it,
which is good for anyone joining now. They’ve actually shortened
the course. So you’ll get out to the fleet a
lot quicker than basically I did when I went through. So after a year of your course,
then they’ll usually post you ashore to a
communications centre for about a year just so you
get a feel for the job. And then they’ll put
you out to sea. On board submarines, you’re
not just a communicator. You’re a submariner as well. So you’ve got to know everyone
else’s job on top of your own. So you’ll have a task book. It’s got about 67 tasks in it. 90% of them are all systems. And you’ll be going through
your hydraulics and high pressure air and main ballasts,
periscopes and masts, all sorts of stuff,
weapons discharge, all that sort of stuff. Once you know the boat a bit
better, yeah, it does kind of feel like you’re home. And the more time you spend
on it, the more you’ll know about it. You learn new things
every day about it. It’s hard to know everything
about the submarine. You’re always learning. That’s the thing
with this job. You never stop learning. You’re always bettering
yourself. We actually have another job
that we do on board, and that’s to look after all the
information technology on board or all the IT gear. So all your personal laptops and
all that sort of stuff and your email and internet, when
you’re alongside, we will look after all of that. So if someone needs their
password reset or their log on is not working properly,
they’ll come to the communicators. So any sort of computer nerd
people out there would love the communication side of things
because it actually gives them a chance
to work with IT. I’ve actually been to Thailand,
Singapore, the Philippines, Tokyo,
and Yokosuka in Japan, New Zealand. I’ve been around Australia
three times. I’ve been to Christmas
Island three times doing work over there. Submarines are so awesome. Yeah, well, for me they are. So, I mean, I’m not getting
out any time soon.

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