Sailor's career begins and ends with Newcastle

Published on CAPT Roger Brennan (author), CPL Kylie Gibson (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Newcastle (F06), Indo-Pacific Endeavour

Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Boatswain Shane Bellingham communicates via sound powered headset from the gun directional platform of HMAS Newcastle during AUSINDEX 2019. (photo: CPL Kylie GIbson)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Boatswain Shane Bellingham communicates via sound powered headset from the gun directional platform of HMAS Newcastle during AUSINDEX 2019.

A Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer’s career began in HMAS Newcastle and will end in the same ship.

Petty Officer Boatswain’s Mate Shane Bellingham was part of Intake 100 in June 1993.

As a keen 18-year-old sailor, he completed basic and category training at HMAS Cerberus in October that year before embarking on a new Australian-built frigate commissioned as HMAS Newcastle.

His 26 years’ of service has gone full circle and he is back on board Newcastle, which is participating in the ADF’s major regional engagement activity INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019 (IPE19).

HMAS Newcastle will decommission in Sydney after taking part in IPE19 and visiting her namesake town.

Petty Officer Bellingham has fond memories of his association with the ship.

“To see a new warship as a seaman, I thought, ‘Wow, this is outstanding’. Everyone was keen to be there, it was fantastic,” Petty Officer Bellingham said. 

“It was the second Adelaide class guided-missile frigate to be built in Australia and we were all ready to get on deck.”

What made the Adelaide class frigates so special when they first entered service was the speed gained from gas turbine engines and their weapon systems, such as the surface-to-air guided-missile capability. 

Petty Officer Bellingham and the crew met Newcastle in the dockyards at Williamstown, Vic, before sailing to Sydney for kitting out, then on to Newcastle for commissioning. 

“I was on the helm when we fired our first SM1 missile, which was fantastic and a good photo opportunity,” he said.

“The next year we deployed overseas for our first ‘up top’ run.”

As a boatswain’s mate, he has demonstrated his seamanship and gunnery skills throughout his time in the Navy.

“I’ve had a lot of highlights, from that young 18-year-old kid that just left home to being an old kid now. I’m glad Newcastle is still around and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Petty Officer Bellingham said. 

“What I’ll miss most is the mateship. I’ve got a good group of mates here...it’s the camaraderie that counts.” 

Also serving on his last deployment during IPE19 is Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Paul Fairhall. 

He also has been pleased to have served in the Adelaide class frigates.

“As opposed to their predecessors, the frigates are recognised for their rapid response and can quickly achieve optimal power,” Lieutenant Commander Fairhall said.

“They are a stable platform and have a mission system that will be sorely missed on retirement of the class.”