Travelling the world to make a difference

Published on CHAP Andrew Watters (author), LSIS Brenton Freind (photographer)

Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Michael Sales hoists signal flags on board HMAS Newcastle as the ship and crew carry maritime security patrols in the Indian Ocean as part of a Combined Maritime Forces. (photo: Leading Seaman Imagery Specialist Brenton Freind)
Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Michael Sales hoists signal flags on board HMAS Newcastle as the ship and crew carry maritime security patrols in the Indian Ocean as part of a Combined Maritime Forces.

Able Seaman Michael Sales is seeing the world thanks to his mixture of modern and historic communications skills. 

Using techniques as varied as flags, flashing lights, computer networks and digital radio links, he keeps the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle in touch with the outside world while it is deployed to the Middle East region for Operation MANITOU.

Able Seaman Sales was inspired to serve his country as a communication and information systems sailor from a young age and wanted to carry on a family tradition.

Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Michael Sales uses the 10-inch signal lamp on board HMAS Newcastle as the ship and crew carry out maritime security patrols in the Indian Ocean as part of a multinational maritime coalition.

Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Michael Sales uses the 10-inch signal lamp on board HMAS Newcastle as the ship and crew carry out maritime security patrols in the Indian Ocean as part of a multinational maritime coalition.

“Every Anzac Day I watched my grandpa Jack Sales wearing his medals with pride and marching with his mates,” he said.

Seven years after graduating from Kempsey High School, he responded to a Defence Recruiting advertisement and three weeks later he started training at HMAS Cerberus, the Navy’s recruit school in Victoria.

He spent his high school years playing with the Kempsey and Port Macquarie Water Polo Clubs, competing locally and representing Kempsey High School.  

“I loved growing up in Kempsey, and while it is not on a beach, we had easy access to them,” he said. 

“I loved going out to South West Rocks, having family barbecues and getting lots of sun and surf in on the weekends.  

“We also went camping at Crescent Head during school holidays every year.”

HMAS Newcastle is his first posting since completing his training and he has experienced a number of memorable highlights so far.

“Surviving street food in Mumbai and diving in the Seychelles have been unforgettable,” he said.

“These experiences are special to me because, if not for the Navy, I wouldn’t have experienced such beautiful and diverse countries.”

The guided missile frigate is deployed on Operation MANITOU, Australia’s maritime security operation in the Middle East region conducting counter terrorism, counter piracy and narcotics interdiction.

Newcastle’s current deployment began in April 2015 is the 60th rotation of an Australian warship to the region since 1990.  She will soon be replaced on station by HMAS Melbourne - which left Sydney on 9 August.