Away from home on duty - keeping watch for Santa

Published on SBLT Bianca Wise (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Lieutenant Amy Beggs-French will be keeping watches at Northern Command in Larrakeyah Barracks Darwin, this Christmas to assist with the whole of government border protection operations. (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Lieutenant Amy Beggs-French will be keeping watches at Northern Command in Larrakeyah Barracks Darwin, this Christmas to assist with the whole of government border protection operations.

The first person to see and report Santa's arrival into Australia may just be Former St Patrick College student Amy Beggs-French who is on duty with Operation RESOLUTE this Christmas in Darwin.

Originally from Townsville, Lieutenant (LEUT) Beggs-French is one of four to take up duty in a team of Watchkeepers within Headquarters Northern Command (HQNORCOM) this festive season.
 
The HQNORCOM Watchkeeper is required to maintain a consistent and comprehensive operational focus and situational awareness of activities within Australia's Northern Waters.

At 25 years-old Amy has been in the Royal Australian Navy for eight years covering postings to HMA Ships Parramatta, Pirie, Bundaberg, Newcastle and Maryborough among many others.

The Townsville local met her husband Rowan through the ADF. Rowan discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force this year and is now a personal trainer.

Amy has been well travelled since joining Defence with domestic trips around Australia as well as a number of places internationally including Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

"Cambodia was my favourite - it's so cultural," the Maritime Warfare Officer said.

LEUT Beggs-French has earned the Australian Defence Medal and Operational Service Medal. However, travel, medals and various accomplishments pale in comparison to the adventure Amy is currently embarked on.

Christmas has come early for the Queenslander who has reached the half way mark of pregnancy. At 20 weeks, both mum, Amy and dad, Rowan are looking forward to the birth of their first child.

Even though she is working through the holidays, Amy's family are visiting Darwin and taking a flexible approach to gain as much family time as possible.

"We will celebrate Christmas and New Years during my days off shift," LEUT Beggs-French said.

“And if it's not too busy at work, I'm hoping to watch the cricket on Boxing Day with a feast of leftovers."

Amy is one of the Watchkeepers working on New Years Eve.

"Depending on the operational tempo we are hoping to watch the fireworks," she said.

Approximately 500 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are deployed this Christmas to Operation RESOLUTE, the ADF’s contribution to Australia’s whole of government border security effort.
 
These include Navy, Army and Air Force personnel conducting air, land and sea surveillance and response for approximately 10 per cent of the world’s surface, 365 days a year.
 
The Watchkeeper position within HQNORCOM is vital to the functionality of the Headquarters. The Watchkeeper is the initial eyes, ears and voice for Commander Northern Command (COMNORCOM) and is responsible for receiving, processing and sending information for HQNORCOM's area of operations, including Operation RESOLUTE and Defence Aid to the Civil Community (DACC) tasking in the event of extreme weather conditions.