Base Manager, Horn Island
‘Home is where the heart is’ for Babcock’s Andrew Nakata. A born and bred Torres Strait Islander, he first worked at the Thursday Island airport when he was 12, carrying bags for passengers during his school holidays, and close family ties continue to bind him to the region. “Thursday Island is where I come from and I’ll always call it home; half of my family lives there and we had a family reunion earlier this year with over 300 people,” he says.
“Working for Babcock has allowed me to have the best of both worlds. I go home to Cairns during my time off, but also come home to work in the Torres Strait”.
Where Thursday Island is the heart of the Torres Strait, Horn Island is its entrepôt, with regional trade and commercial activity based around the airfield where Andrew is now the Base Manager. Living in Cairns, he travels back and forth, working two-three weeks at a time, and cherishes the opportunity to remain close to his family. “Working for Babcock has allowed me to have the best of both worlds. I go home to Cairns during my time off, but also come home to work in the Torres Strait”.
Babcock manages two contracts from the Horn Island base; Australian Border Force and Queensland Health. Both operations place unique demands on the base and the team and, as Base Manager, Andrew has to make sure pilots, aircrew, engineers, support staff and the aircraft themselves are ready for rapid response at any time of the day. “Upon receiving a call, our response time to get airborne is 30 minutes – we do daily inspections of the aircraft so that we are always ready to go,” he says.
“Safety impacts everything we do. Close enough is not good enough and we need to be on point. It feels great to work in a culture that fosters this attitude and high level of professionalism.”
Whether it’s a Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) mission or a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation, time is of the essence but safety remains our number one priority. “Everything revolves around safety at Babcock and that’s how it should be,” Andrew says. “Safety impacts everything we do. Close enough is not good enough and we need to be on point. It feels great to work in a culture that fosters this attitude and high level of professionalism.”
Working for a company that prioritises safety is just one of the reasons Andrew enjoys working for Babcock. He also enjoys contributing to the overall success of the company through the smooth operation of the airbase. “Here, on Horn Island, the people make the base. I enjoy the people I work with and the company also has great loyalty,” he says. “It’s satisfying when we get our aircraft online in the shortest period of time and the client thanks us for a job well done.”