It may have been a family history in military service that shaped Chief Petty Officer Andrew Spencer’s decision to join the Royal Australian Navy, but it was his meritorious contribution to the navy’s weapons systems that earned him a Conspicuous Service Medal in this year’s Australia Day honours list.
Since childhood, CPO Spencer has had an interest in naval history. Hoping to continue his family’s legacy of military service, he enlisted in the RAN from Brisbane in 1986, spending the first half of his career in Sydney before moving to WA in 2000.
Since joining the RAN, CPO Spencer has served on ships and bases including three destroyers — HMAS Brisbane, Hobart and Perth — and on Anzac-class frigates HMAS Anzac, Arunta and Warramunga. He said his three Persian Gulf deployments on HMAS Brisbane in 1990/91, HMAS Anzac in 2002/03, and HMAS Arunta in 2007/08, and two RIMPAC exercises off Hawaii on HMAS Brisbane in 1990 and Warramunga in 2010 were his greatest career highlights so far.
“To be part of the crew on HMAS Anzac that fired the first shot in anger since the Vietnam War by undertaking naval gunfire support in 2003 was a definite highlight of my career,” he said.
“It was greatly satisfying to see the endless hours of training put into effect with total professionalism and efficiency by all involved, doing the job that we are trained for.”
Specialising in weapon safety and material management, CPO Spencer is based at HMAS Stirling, where he manages the weapons workshop at Fleet Support Unit West.
“I have always had a fascination with the gun and missile systems on warships, both past and present, so feel extremely lucky to have had a career where I have worked as a maintainer, operator and ultimately as the supervisor of ships armament and fire control systems,” he said. “I was both extremely surprised and honoured to be receiving the CSM and being mentioned in the Australia Day Honours list. Any accomplishment in the navy comes as a result of teamwork and I think that this award is as much for the whole weapons maintenance team at the fleet support unit as for myself.”
CPO Spencer was one of six RAN members to receive a Conspicuous Service Medal.