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From Bunbury Grammar to the High Seas: A Captain’s Journey of Adventure and Achievement

Life after school can take us on unexpected voyages, and for one Bunbury Grammar alumnus, it led to a thrilling career on the high seas. Meet Robert Puttman (PY 2009), an accomplished mariner, and Captain of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Protector, currently stationed in Fremantle. His journey from the school grounds to the vast oceans is a tale of hard work, determination, and the pursuit of dreams.

Setting Sail on an Academic and Professional Odyssey

Upon graduating from Bunbury Grammar, Robert set his sights on a career in the maritime industry. He wasted no time and embarked on a Bachelor of Applied Science (Nautical Science) at the Australian Maritime College. As he pursued his studies, he also started working as a navigational officer for Teekay Shipping, an opportunity that exposed him to various vessels and maritime challenges.

In 2015, the company partnered with the Royal Australian Navy opening new doors for Robert. Teekay Shipping started operating non-combat vessels for the Navy, providing him with the chance to collaborate closely with Navy and government personnel on exciting projects and exercises. Notably, he played a vital role in three submarine search and rescue exercises – a testament to his leadership and skills under pressure.

Navigating Adventures On and Off the Water

While dedicating himself to his career, Robert has found time to explore the world during his off-duty moments. He has travelled extensively, visiting an impressive 30 countries across five continents. Among his most cherished memories were the six weeks spent in South America, hiking through the breath-taking landscapes of Patagonia and exploring the wonders of the Galapagos Islands.

Crowning Achievements and Personal Attributes

Without a doubt, being appointed as a Captain at the age of 30 stands as Robert’s most significant achievement. This promotion is a testament to his exceptional skills, dedication, and passion for the maritime industry—The dream of becoming Captain is one he held close since he was just three-years-old.

His journey has been guided by two essential personal attributes: adaptability and leadership. Each day at sea presents diverse challenges, from emergencies to navigational complexities. Robert’s ability to adapt swiftly has ensured positive outcomes during these testing situations. Moreover, his leadership skills have allowed him to manage teams comprising of individuals older and more experienced than himself, demonstrating the importance of listening, respect, and collaboration. “I am a firm believer that respect is something that should be earned and one of the best ways to do this is to listen the people around you who may have different ideas and experiences.”

Charting the Course Ahead

As Robert enjoys the rewards of achieving his childhood ambition, he sets his sights on his next adventure: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. This sailor’s passion for exploration extends beyond the sea and into the world’s tallest peaks.

Looking further ahead, Robert envisions a transition into marine pilotage, guiding large ships in and out of harbours. With Fremantle being his ideal location, he aspires to continue contributing his expertise to the maritime industry in a new capacity.

Acknowledging the Teachers Who Guided the Way

Reflecting on his time at Bunbury Grammar, Robert expresses gratitude to Ms. Marissa Pirie (2007 – 2019), his Geography teacher in years 11 and 12. Her support and guidance played a pivotal role in shaping his post-school trajectory and instilled in him the belief that with determination, any dream is achievable.

Fond Memories of Bunbury Grammar

Diving enthusiasts will find common ground with Robert, who cherishes the memories of being part of the School Dive club. To this day, he continues to explore the underwater world whenever the opportunity arises, though he now prefers the allure of tropical waters over the cooler South West.

The Unique Charms of Bunbury Grammar

The school’s location and culture set it apart in Robert’s heart. The freedom to find his own path, combined with a focus on the desired outcome, allowed him to develop the resilience and resourcefulness necessary for a successful maritime career.

As Robert sails forward, he leaves behind a legacy of ambition, courage, and the pursuit of adventure. From Bunbury Grammar to commanding a vessel at sea, his journey inspires others to follow their dreams, embrace challenges, and chart their course toward a fulfilling future.


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