Solemn duty for HMAS Newcastle

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Jodie Wilkinson (author), LSIS Brenton Freind (photographer)

Chaplain Andrew Watters offers a prayer as he conducts a scattering of ashes at sea memorial service of four former RAN personel as HMAS Newcastle departs Sydney, NSW, to begin Operation Manitou in the Middle East region. (photo: Leading Seaman Imagery Specialist Brenton Freind)
Chaplain Andrew Watters offers a prayer as he conducts a scattering of ashes at sea memorial service of four former RAN personel as HMAS Newcastle departs Sydney, NSW, to begin Operation Manitou in the Middle East region.

As HMAS Newcastle was farewelled from Fleet Base East bound for Operation MANITOU on 1 April, her crew took time to reflect on 100 years of service and sacrifice.  

Dignitaries lined the wharf as the ship departed but it was those closest to the crew on board that shed the odd tear as they watched their loved ones depart on another operational deployment. 

“It was hard to see my wife and sons waving and cheering with tears in their eyes,” said Commanding Officer, Commander Dominic MacNamara.

“But my family understands how important this deployment is, and what an honour it is to conduct operations on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings."

Under a clear blue sky and with calm seas HMAS Newcastle sailed through the Sydney heads and while still dressed in their ceremonial white uniforms, the officers and sailors of Newcastle use the opportunity to honour the memory of four previous Royal Australian Navy sailors.  These men had served in the Second World War and Korea and their last wish of having their ashes scattered at sea from a Royal Australian Navy vessel was fulfilled.

“We should never forget those that came before us and the sacrifices they made on our behalf,” Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics -Operational Support Anne Becker said.

“The reputation the Navy has today is based on the actions of our predecessors, and it is fitting that we honour them accordingly.” 

Chaplain Andrew Watters officiated over the scattering of ashes ceremony honouring the memory of Michael Alfred Duncan S8051, Jack Rogers Fisher H967, Lawrence George Grove S8086, and Robert Michael Nicholls E103226. 

“Each of these former members of the Navy had seen operational service and it was fitting that their ashes be scattered to the sea by the current stewards who are proceeding on an operational deployment,” Chaplain Watters said. 

After a moving benediction, the service history of the former sailors was read by current serving members and with a quiet respective silence their ashes were passed to the deep.

After the ceremony Newcastle continued her passage to the Middle East region for the conduct of Operation MANITOU and will return to her family and friends later in the year.