BSSC Alumnus, Josh Wilson, grew up playing cricket for Maiden Gully, nowhere near the ocean. But he’s now Commanding Officer of the Royal Australian Navy’s newest warship, the HMAS Brisbane (III).

Commander Wilson joined the navy aged 23. He’d been a naval cadet growing up in Bendigo, where he also studied at university, before working for a short time for VicRoads in Ballarat.

The opportunity to do something totally different – and travel all over the world – was what appealed about the navy, Commander Wilson said.

In his 22 year career Commander Wilson has been a warfare officer, navigated frigates, and worked in the warship unit. He’s been deployed in the Middle East, East Timor and border protection.

A ship at sea is an “incredible” place to be, he said.

“Being part of a ship, especially when the ship goes to sea, it’s a very focused environment and it’s a very collegial environment. There’s a command structure and a structure within the ship, everyone goes off and does what the ship does together,” Commander Wilson said.

“I grew up playing a lot of team sport, and it’s just that on another level. You are involved and you are needed.

“Everyone contributes … you’re part of something bigger than yourself. When you’re on a ship and a ship works, it’s a pretty incredible feeling.”

Commander Wilson was named for the position of commanding officer in 2016.

To command a warship, officers have to work through all the officer positions in the warship command. Command positions are then selected by a board of admirals.

He took command in December 2017 of the ship, which was commissioned in 2018. Getting to that point was an involved process, which took about a year’s work for the crew.

Since then the HMAS Brisbane (III) has been at sea – training the crew and testing the IT systems. It will head to the United States later in the year to prove its missile systems.

It will reach “operational capability” at that point, meaning it can be send on operations by the government.

“For a naval officer it’s the culmination of a career, to command a warship is what you join the navy to do in my particular branch,” Commander Wilson said.

“Commissioning a ship is another level of complexity on it. When I took command we had 12 people, working in an office complex in Sydney and our ship was in pieces in Adelaide.

“The realisation that that was what I was going to try and do at that time was quite daunting. I still have to sometimes try and pinch myself to see what I can try and achieve.”

Elspeth Kernebone – Bendigo Advertiser