HMAS Success brought a touch of Aussie Christmas to the Gulf of Oman this year. Whilst deployed on Operation MANITOU in the Middle East, the crew celebrated Christmas in a unique but familiar way. Festivities were as traditional as possible but slightly modified due to the ship’s environment.
'Carols by Cyalume-light' kicked off the celebrations on Christmas Eve, followed by a unique midnight mass on the flag deck under the stars of the Arabian sky. Lookouts on the bridge kept a keen eye for Rudolf’s flashing red nose, so that Santa would be able to find the Aussie sailors.
Christmas Day started early for the chefs of Success. The feast provided for the crew contained iconic Australian summer Christmas dishes, mostly seafood and classic Australian desserts. The bonus of being on a supply ship is that there are means to store these usually hard to prepare at sea delicacies. And no Christmas would be complete without a game of 'steel beach' cricket. Ship’s company mustered on the flight deck to play and watch the two teams representing the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer.
Santa made an appearance and handed out 'Secret Santa' presents and Christmas care packages sent from Aussie school children. The crew were touched by the words the kids wrote in their letters and the thought that went into their gifts.
Commanding Officer, Captain Justin Jones, said despite the distance from home and being separated from loved ones, Christmas on operational service can be a special time for deployed members.
"We have some members on their first deployment and their first time away from home, while others have been deployed numerous times. If we can’t be with our loved ones at Christmas, the next best thing is to be surrounded by shipmates, living a shared experience," he said.
HMAS Success deployed for the Middle East on 23 November and is due home in May next year. Operation MANITOU is the ADF’s contribution to global maritime security, stability and prosperity.