Ben Forrester is an 85-year-old and believed to be the oldest FIFO (fly in, fly out) worker in Australia and possibly the oldest working marine engineer in the world, spending 28 days on and 28 days off between Perth and the Triton, the British warship prototype which now patrols Australia’s northern waters for the Australian Customs Service.”Hold on a minute before you start talking,” Ben Forrester says, reaching down to the bench and picking up two pink hearing aids, the only concession to his age.
He pops one in each ear and his face breaks into a grin: “I’m as deaf as a post, you know.”
“Some of the younger guys tell me not to go up ladders or lift things but I just wait until they’re gone and I do it anyway,” he said, sitting back in the battered blue bus he calls home.
He was born in 1926 and officially went to sea in October 1950, working on ships for $30 a month.
He was forced into compulsory retirement in the mid-1990s and lived for a time on his superannuation and then – when that ran out – on the pension.
“I got dumped out of marine duty when I turned 66. The union said I wasn’t allowed to work any more,” he said.
“I said ‘I don’t want to retire’ and the company didn’t want me to retire but the union insisted. So I became a pensioner.”
After about 10 years of struggling to make ends meet on the pension, he decided to find work again.
“The only jobs I could get in Perth were as a caretaker,” he said.
So he went back to what he loved, partly out of boredom and partly for cash, renewed his qualifications and sought work out to sea.
Source: The West Australian
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