Former resident returns as ship commander
By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au
AS a lad, Michael Oborn had seen much of the Gladstone Harbour ? after all he had lived more than half of his 32 years here.
But more recently he has viewed it from a different perspective ? as Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Australian Navy vessel, the HMAS Betano.
The vessel, one of the Navy's six Heavy Landing Craft and part of the Amphibious and Afloat Support Group (AASG), arrived at Auckland Point at 3.30pm on Saturday and will leave tomorrow.
Michael was born in Gladstone and did all his primary and high school education here.
'I've looked up many of my old mates and I expect to catch up with a few more before I leave,' he said yesterday.
But he said what was even more important was that his father Roger, who left Gladstone in 1994, had flown up from Yackandandah in Victoria to meet him here and take part in a cruise on board the HMAS Betano to Airlie Beach.
Michael said the cruises were part of the Navy's effort to include families into the lives of its personnel.
'Because this is an all-men's ship, we can only have the dads on board,' he said.
The visits were a bit like "boys and their toys'', he said, with the sons showing the visitors what they did on-board ship.
'The dads love it,' he said.
Michael said the HMAS Betano, which had a company of 16, was too old and too small to be redesigned to include separate living compartments for women.
He found entering Gladstone harbour exciting.
'I was able to point out from the ship the places I knew, such as the Boyne smelter and QAL wharf, and such things as the places I fished and even where we lived when we were here.'
The HMAS Betano is on its way back to its base in Darwin where Michael's wife and two young children await him.