HMAS Dechaineux returned to her home port at Fleet Base West just before Christmas, following a six month deployment to Asia and the east coast of Australia.
Her return marked 176 days since leaving her home port and she steamed 24,000 miles in what was a busy period. A large number of sailors and officers qualified as submariners and on the job training continued for many others.
The busy program has been a challenge for the crew but one they all relished said Commanding Officer, Commander Robin Dainty.
"Our tempo was high since we left home all those months ago but despite that the crew remained focused and adapted to changes along the way," he said.
"We participated in exercises with many different units from Australia, New Zealand, United States and Malaysia.
"It enabled our control room personnel to gain much from the varied experiences and be exposed to different operating conditions.
"The engineering department have done a remarkable job at maintaining the platform in a superb state considering the very different environmental settings.
"Even though they were many miles away friends and family of Dechaineux crew have remained supportive and provided encouragement from home."
Because of their support a special guest was embarked on Dechaineux's return journey to surprise the waiting friends and family on the wharf. Joining the 60-strong crew, Santa Claus embarked early on the morning of Dechaineux's return bringing with him some gifts for the waiting children. Commander Dainty said that Santa's visit was a welcome surprise.
"We were all looking forward to seeing our families and the fact that Santa made a special trip from the North Pole to see them as well was a great reward for our hard work, and it was a particular delight to see the look on the children's faces as we approached the wharf with him onboard," Commander Dainty said.
Once the greetings were done, the presents were distributed and their bags offloaded the fearless crew of HMAS Dechaineux waved off Santa who left for the airport to return home to the North Pole. The most precious gift given though was the chance for the crew to sleep in their own beds that night; the first time in almost six months.