The once in a century date 11/12/13 was also a historical day for Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Newcastle.
As well as being the 20th birthday of the youngest FFG in the Fleet, it was also the day that Commander Dominic Macnamara assumed Command of HMAS Newcastle from Commander Paul O’Grady, CSM, RAN.
During the handover ceremony, Commander O’Grady thanked the crew for their efforts during his watch.
“During my time as Commanding Officer of Newcastle, we have achieved many things. We prepared for and successfully completed a deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation SLIPPER,” said Commander O’Grady.
“During this period everyone the ship, from senior officers to the most junior sailor demonstrated the highest values of navy service and professionalism.”
“We also secured a number of prizes, taking out the Supply Excellence Award and CDRE Wardle Cup, whilst being runner up for the Wormald Shield, the Combat System Proficiency Shield and the Collins Trophy,” said Commander O’Grady.
As he departed the ship for the last time on a stebber, crewed by Newcastle Officers of the Watch, the ship’s company gave him a final ‘Cheer Ship’.
Commander Mancamara now has the helm and is the 14th Commanding Officer of Newcastle, which has a proud history.
Unlike the first four Adelaide class frigates, Newcastle was not constructed in the United States of America. Built by Australian Marine Engineering, Newcastle’s keel was laid down on 21 July 1989 in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia. On 11 December 1993, Newcastle’s was commissioned by Lady Margaret McNaughton, AM.
Though young in age, Newcastle has had a busy and eventful life. Early in her distinguished career, Newcastle crashed sailed at 0400h on the 28 December 1998 to assist in that year’s tragic Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Newcastle has had numerous operational deployments including Battle Honours, "East Timor 1999–2000" and "Persian Gulf 2002–03”.
Never resting on her laurels, Newcastle was the first unit on task for the Solomon Islands Crisis in 2000 and again was the first unit on station during the political crisis in Fiji in 2006. Newcastle has deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations on four occasions in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2013
During her 20 years, Newcastle has steamed 662,643 nautical miles, which is the equivalent of sailing around the equator 30 times or 4,093 trips from Fleet Base East, Sydney to Jervis Bay.