Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bruce Legge - Best Job in the World




Standing on the bridge of a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) warship is a long way from secondary college in Warracknabeal. But for Commander Bruce Legge it’s all in a day’s work since he took Command of the ANZAC Class guided missile frigate, HMAS Warramunga on 14 July this year. And it’s a job that he claims is the best in the world.
Commander Legge was born in Frankston, but moved to Warracknabeal in 1983 when his father, Mr Don Legge, became the Principal of the local primary school. His family’s long naval tradition proved too hard to resist, so after completing secondary college studies, Commander Legge joined the RAN under the direct entry officer scheme, with the rank of Midshipman in 1986. Over the past 23 years he has ascended to the rank of Commander and is now the Commanding Officer, or ‘Captain’ of a 3,600 tonne, 118 metre long warship based in Western Australia.
Salt water might well flow through Commander Legge’s veins, as he has a brother and uncle who both served for well over 20 years in the Navy. However, in terms of naval exploits, it is his grandfather, Leonard Legge, in whom he is most proud. During World War II, Leonard survived the sinking of HMAS Canberra at Guadalcanal in August 1942. After Leonard passed away in 1997, his war medals were framed behind glass and they now proudly adorn the wall of Commander Legge’s office onboard Warramunga, referred to as his ‘cabin’. He claims that the medals make for some interesting conversation with visitors to his cabin.
Commander Legge will be in command of the Warramunga until the end of 2010, after which time he expects to be assigned to an administrative job in Canberra. However, in the meantime he is in Command of a potent warship which he expects to take to Hawaii around the middle of next year so that the ship can participate in a multi national maritime exercise hosted by the United States called RIMPAC (or Rim-of-the-Pacific). This exercise is likely to have up to 30,000 military personnel participating.
HMAS Warramunga is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare. Further details on the ship can be obtained from the website, http://www.navy.gov.au/HMAS_Warramunga.
Despite the ship possessing very modern weapon systems, Commander Legge believes his job is more about leading the Officers and crew, rather than the hardware at his fingertips. He is responsible for the morale and well being of a crew of around 170. Each has professional and personal needs which need to be met in order for them to ensure the ship operates effectively. The job of ‘Captain’ is one that is both a challenge and professionally rewarding. It may have taken 23 years to obtain Command of a frigate, but Commander Legge will tell anyone that it’s worth it.

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