April 22 - 28, 2012: Issue 55

Above: Ian at Remembrance Day 2011 (11.11.11)at Avalon RSL as part of the Catafalque Party. Photo by and couresty of David Bennett, sub-branch 

Above: Ian at A J Small Lookout, The Serpentine, Avalon-Bilgola, this week. Photo by and courtesy of Michael Mannington, Volunteer Photography. 

Copyright Ian McGiffen, 2012. All Rights Reserved. 

 Ian McGiffen 

Last year we were fortunate to meet a lovely young gent with a family history of involvement and service in the Navy. His courtesy towards his elders, respect for traditions and maturity beyond his years while still obviously revelling in being in his twenties make you stand back and blink. To see our young people evolve and find their ways into doing something they enjoy and become clearer and stronger in purpose is something we should all celebrate on every occasion we can. We hear too much of how the upcoming generation is struggling and not enough about how they are striving and achieving. Ian McGiffen gives us a small opportunity to this week.

I lived in North Curl Curl my whole life and finished year 12 in 2006 at Cromer High then went on to study Real Estate at TAFE. Soon after I got a job at a local agency where I worked for two years and found it wasn't for me which was good in a way as it gave me a break. I took a couple of months off and travelled through Europe. Upon my return I got a job at a café in Avalon until I joined the Navy in April 2009 which has changed my life completely. After adjusting to the culture shock from basic training I found the Navy was for me. The Navy provided me with travel opportunities, which most other jobs couldn't offer. In my first year alone I was posted to Darwin for training progression only weeks after graduating basic training and joined HMAS MAITLAND (Patrol Boat) and did OPERATION RESOLUTE which is the Australian Defence Forces contribution to the whole-of-government effort to protect Australia’s borders and offshore maritime interests.  This includes: Irregular Maritime Arrivals, Maritime terrorism, Piracy robbery and violence at sea, Illegal activity in protected areas, Illegal exploitation of natural resources (eg. illegal fishing), Marine pollution and Prohibited imports and exports. 

What makes be most proud was the opportunity to help out my fellow Australians during the QLD floods (OPERATION QLD FLOOD ASSIST). My duties included providing the provision of clean water and rations, debris removal, and the search, rescue and recovery of isolated, missing or deceased persons. This was not only a turning point for me as a member of the ADF but also a life changing experience; after seeing the devastation on peoples faces after losing everything they were still able to put on a smile for us and pick themselves up in the wake of the biggest natural disaster Australia has ever seen. 

My job in the Navy is a Boatswains Mate (Bosun) I am responsible for all seamanship like duties on a ship such as anchor work, rope work and small boat handling. In addition my job category is also heavily involved in Boarding Operations and Force Protection. We also specialise in Fast Roping from Navy Helicopters in support of boarding ships which is the more fun side of my job. 

At the moment I'm currently posted to HMAS SUCCESS which is the Navy's largest ship and responsible for re-supplying other ships at sea with fuel, ammunition etc. HMAS SUCCESS is based at Garden Island Sydney which is great for me as it’s not far from the Beaches. SUCCESS is a great ship to be on with a highly trained and professional crew, everyone is your mate and always happy to lend a hand. Next year I hope to start a Degree in Security, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism through the Defence Assisted Study Scheme which has the full support of my superiors. I also, in the future, have aspirations to become an officer. 

The Navy gives you an opportunity to travel and experience other cultures. If you had a choice, where in the world would you like to go and why? 

In regards to travelling, if our Navy went to Scotland it would be great for me to see my heritage as my Grandfather immigrated to Australia from Scotland. Also the Scottish are immensely proud of their nation and take delight in self-deprecating humour and continue to honour their traditions much as I have been taught by my Grandfather. 

What have you found being in the Navy has taught you so far?

The Navy is great employer and certainly provided me with opportunities I never thought I would have. To anyone who is unsure of what to do in life I’d say give the Navy a go. 

What is your favourite place in Pittwater?

My favourite place in Pittwater would be Bilgola Lookout at the top of the hill overlooking Avalon/Bilgola (A J Small Lookout). 

What is your 'Motto for Life" or a favourite phrase you try to live by? 

My life motto would be "Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can"

Our ship’s motto (HMAS SUCCESS) is "Strive to win" 

 Australian replenishment tanker HMAS Success (AOR 304) comes alongside the forward-deployed amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9) in preparation for an underway replenishment., Photo by and courtesy of Casey H. Kyhl, U.S. Navy.