Fighting terror, so hold the honeymoon

Published on CPL Mark Doran (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, Drug interdiction, Counter-terrorism

Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Operations  Lisa Nevell is working with the Combined Maritime Forces Maritime Operations Support Group based at the Naval Support Activity is Manama, Bahrain.  (photo: Corporal Mark Doran)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Operations Lisa Nevell is working with the Combined Maritime Forces Maritime Operations Support Group based at the Naval Support Activity is Manama, Bahrain.

Leading Seaman Lisa Nevell made it to the wedding, but her honeymoon is on hold while she contributes to Australia's fight against terrorism.

She is a maritime logistician deployed with the Royal Australian Navy to the Middle East as a member of the Combined Maritime Forces Maritime Operations Support Group based at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain.

The Combined Force is a multi-national naval partnership of 30 member nations promoting security, stability and prosperity across approximately the 3.2 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world's most important shipping lanes.

The Maritime Operations Support Group fills key-leadership and operations support positions within the headquarters while the Logistic Support Element delivers services to Australian ships deployed in the region.

Leading Seaman Nevell is originally from the Southern Highlands town of Hilltop, in New South Wales, and finished her high school studies in Bowral.

She said she had worked as a legal secretary in Sydney before she joined the Navy.

"My main motivation to enlist was to escape the two hour commute each day to a boring job," she said.

"Working in naval logistics was a good fit for me with my experience of working as a legal secretary.

"I'm glad I did, because I met my husband, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Riley Cashman, who works at HMAS Kuttabul.

"We were married only 11 days before I deployed, so hopefully when I return to Australia from my deployment we can plan to go on our honeymoon."

The Combined Maritime Forces' main work is in defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

The force is comprised of three Combined Task Forces; which conducts maritime security and counter-terrorism operations, counter piracy operations, and are responsible for Arabian Gulf security and cooperation operations.

The 30 member nations are Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Yemen.

Leading Seaman Nevell said the fantastic teamwork was a highlight of her first deployment.

"The work we are doing is very important as we play a massive role, especially in counter-terrorism," she said.

"There would be a lot more narcotics trafficking in the Middle East of drugs that could reach our shores and fund terrorists if we weren't here or the boardings didn't happen at sea.”

The Australian warship HMAS Melbourne recently seized 216kg of heroin worth an estimated $AUD 64M from a dhow off the east coast of Africa.

The drug haul is second of her current deployment to the Middle East region, bringing the total weight of heroin she has seized to close to 800kg.

The haul takes the Royal Australian Navy's narcotics haul since February 2014 to over five tonnes and to almost $664 million for 2015.

Leading Seaman Nevell said life as a sailor gave her many opportunities to travel and advance in her career.

"I need to be stimulated in my job and with Navy I can start afresh with a new position in a new location every two years," she said.

"My older brother, Leading Aircraftsman Jack Nevell, was also inspired by my military life so he joined the Air Force as an Airfield Defence Guard and is now based at RAAF Base Williamtown in Newcastle."

Leading Seaman Nevell said the base was incredible with heaps of amenities and services available.

"We live in the community near the base and it is fantastic to work alongside personnel from the other nations," she said.

"It will be a challenge being away from home for the Christmas season, but we have a tight group of Aussies in Bahrain, which will make it a bit easier until my next visit to my mother in Shoal Bay near Newcastle."