Continuing a family tradition

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Mark Doran (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Melbourne (F05)

Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Boatswains Mate Jessica Muir conducts live-fire drills on the .50cal machinegun aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling in the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou. (photo: Corporal Mark Doran)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Boatswains Mate Jessica Muir conducts live-fire drills on the .50cal machinegun aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling in the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou.

Seaman Boatswains Mate Jessica Muir took on a family tradition when she became a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy.

Seaman Muir, from Newcastle, is currently onboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling in the Middle East region as part of Operation MANITOU, Australia's contribution to the multinational Combined Maritime Forces.

The former Swansea High School student and Valentine Phoenix soccer star joined Navy in 2014 and is on her first operational deployment.

Seaman Muir said she always wanted to join the Navy.

"Both my grandfathers were sailors during the Second World War and the stories they shared when I was growing up made me want to enlist," she said.

"Navy training was a totally different environment to what I was used to, but I actually loved the experience of Recruit School and made some great new friends."

Seaman Muir joined Melbourne at the start of the mission readiness evaluations when the warship was preparing deployment, which she said was a big wake-up call.

"I needed to learn about the ship and my responsibilities in what was a high-tempo period," she said.

"I feel privileged to have joined a very good ship with fantastic people and I enjoy the great food.

"I am also proud to be a part of Operation MANITOU and helping to keep drugs off the streets."

Melbourne
has conducted several boardings since commencing her patrols, including one occasion in September where medical assistance was provided to a critically ill mariner on a merchant vessel.

Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Boatswains Mate Jessica Muir maintains a .50cal machinegun aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling in the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou.

Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Boatswains Mate Jessica Muir maintains a .50cal machinegun aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling in the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou.



Boardings require great assistance from the ship's crew, and Seaman Muir said she was usually on watch on the upper-deck providing oversight for the boardings.

"I get to see everything when the suspected vessels are being boarded on searches for illegal drugs," she said.

"When we found the heroin on a fishing dhow during our first patrol I went out on the sea boat to help recover the drugs.

"It left me speechless to see that amount of drugs - I could not believe it."

The drug intercept occurred when Melbourne observed a fishing dhow operating erratically.

Melbourne's
crew conducted a boarding operation and in the course of the investigation it became evident the vessel and crew were probably involved in an illegal activity.

A thorough search located 427kg of heroin.

The long days spent at sea searching for illegal activity also provides time for sailors to think about home.

Seaman Muir said the tasking had helped her realise how much she had taken for granted.

"I can't wait to go home and catch up with my family and friends," she said.

"I try to stay in contact with them as much as possible, but they know I am out here doing my job and when news reports of Melbourne's success are made public we get so many messages from people giving us their support."

The Combined Maritime Forces undertake security operations in the region, including patrols to intercept the trafficking of drugs that help fund international terrorism.