Breaking the barriers, riding the waves | Daily News


Breaking the barriers, riding the waves

Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta, Commander Anita Mary Nemarich outlines the challenges posed by a Naval career
HMAS Parramatta undocking after her Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade at BAE Systems Henderson Shipyard, Western Australia.
HMAS Parramatta undocking after her Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade at BAE Systems Henderson Shipyard, Western Australia.

The seas are no longer the domain of men. Women have now laid claim to its vast expanse. The gaze of Poseidon has now fallen on women who now share dominion of the seas along with men. Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta, Commander Anita Mary Nemarich is one such female commander of the Australian Navy who now commands the seas. Commander Nemarich was recently in Sri Lanka and spoke to the Daily News on life in the Australian Navy.

The commander who has been in the Australian Navy for 21 years, pointed out she has faced so many challenges on the way. During those 21 years the Commander has had to participate in so many professional courses that involved a lot of sea time. She has had to make so many sacrifices but has thoroughly enjoyed her time as an officer in the Australian Navy. She is not the only female that has risen through its ranks and the Australian Navy has a splendid history. Twenty three percent of the Australian Navy is female. She commented that females in command positions in the Australian Navy are becoming more and more common. In fact, it is not unusual at all.

Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta, Commander Anita Mary Nemarich 

Nemarich has had to be away from her loved ones for long periods of time which she admits is hard. That is actually a challenge for everybody she says. But everyone needs to keep the morale of the crew high and that certainly can be a challenge for any Commander. Everyone enjoys the exposure to different cultures that they encounter which is part of the job. If you can keep the crew happy then they perform very well and their performance is of a very high standard.

Australian Navy

“I have always been drawn to the Australian Navy. I have always been drawn to the job. It is a job and I have always wanted it since the time I was 12-years-old. For me there was never any other career choice. It was always the Australian Navy. I would say it is a calling,” said Nemarich.

She also pointed out that along the way she has encountered a lot of strong female role models. At one of her postings she had this female commanding officer who is now a commodore and she still keeps in touch with this amazing woman.

Nemarich commands 190 crew members, and she is the first to admit that it is truly an amazing experience working with them and it is the best part of the job. They are inspirational and hardworking. They are innovative and they are simply great people to work with. Though there have been a couple of sleepless nights it is all worth it.

“I spoke at an International Women’s Day function recently in Sri Lanka. If you want to pursue a career in the Navy there is nothing that can stop you. This is not just the Navy. It can be any career. Do it with all your heart and mind. There are no barriers,” explained Nemarich. She also added that HMAS Parramatta had done many Middle Eastern Deployments. During 2011 – 2012 she was the Operations Officer on board HMAS Parramatta and the crew were involved in counter narcotics work in the Indian Ocean. She did a similar deployment when she was the Executive Officer on HMAS Newcastle. She and the crew were involved in narcotics interdictions. She recalls it was very rewarding and as it contributed to the global effort against reducing illegal trafficking in narcotics.

“Knowing I was making a difference and contributing towards keeping the seas safe and reducing illegal substances to countries, made it very satisfying. It is all part of that global effort that involves all like-minded people in so many countries and knowing I was a part of that makes me feel jubilant,” said Nemarich.

Nemarich has been able to travel to so many countries and though there is a lot of hard work along the way, she cherishes these opportunities, because being able to visit countries like Sri Lanka is so exciting. This makes the job completely worth it. Nemarich recounts her visit to Galle calling it a wonderful opportunity to see the rich heritage of Sri Lanka. She also added that she loves Sri Lankan food and that she spent some time in the Pettah market as well as seeing some temples and the red mosque. She says she especially appreciates the architecture.

Nemarich point out that she really appreciates her team, because they work so hard and are so committed and dedicated to the job. She will always remember them and treasures the memories. Promoting her crew members is also something she relishes. The Australian Navy also promotes a healthy life style and encourages the crew to pursue healthy lifestyles. Exercising in the morning like going for a daily run makes her energized and also participating in the gym she says promotes unity in the ship - spending time with the ship’s company.

“If you take the milestones in my career this command position is a huge one. Also being appointed navigating officer was another milestone. That was a difficult one actually but passing that was very rewarding. I also attended the Australian Defence Force Academy which was a valuable experience and pointed me in the direction of where I am now,” said Nemarich.

Maritime stability and security

She has served in the Middle East four times. This was soon after the Twin Towers incident on September 11, through to 2015. She did not really find it scary or intimidating, because the Australian Military trains their officers so well. They are trained to survive in those types of situations. In the Australian Navy you are never on your own she points out. There is a whole ship and team with you. They are your family. And her team is really great.

“When you know that your team is well trained and that they are all capable of doing their jobs you feel secure. There are so many duties on a ship and that trust is paramount. I think that the world is experiencing so many conflicts at the present moment which makes things very unpredictable. The Australian Navy plays a very critical role in the defense of the country and like Sri Lanka our borders are all coastal. Our Navy plays a role in maintaining maritime stability and security. We also want to contribute to global stability. Also, we play a part in humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Also, migration has been a factor for Australia. As I said before we are engaged in counter narcotics work. And this needs to continue on into the future. My tour in Sri Lanka this time is mainly on Counter Narcotics work in light of the interdictions your Navy has done recently,” explained Nemarich.

When it comes to dreams and goals in the future she just wants to continue being in the Navy because she loves the job. She commented that she has met so many inspirational people she has been fortunate enough to work with. Some have been commanding officers she has worked for. She has met so many sailors who work with such integrity. These sailors carry out their duties with such passion. She says that they are just great human beings with whom it is great to work with.


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