HMAS Newcastle visits the Seychelles

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author and photographer)

Location(s): Port Victoria, Seychelles

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER, HMAS Newcastle (F06)

Acting Sub Lieutenant Rachael Jones sorts the mail for the crew of HMAS Newcastle in the Junior Sailors Cafe. (photo: LEUT Sarah West)
Acting Sub Lieutenant Rachael Jones sorts the mail for the crew of HMAS Newcastle in the Junior Sailors Cafe.

A port visit to the Seychelles provided a much-needed opportunity for the crew of HMAS Newcastle to re-energise ahead of her next high-tempo counter-terrorism patrol on Operation SLIPPER.

Soon after coming alongside Port Victoria, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) took on around one tonne of mail and care packages from loved ones in Australia, much to the delight of her crew.

“It was like Christmas, parcels and letters were going out to people all through the ship. Some people had recently celebrated birthdays, so they got some nice surprises,” Acting Sub Lieutenant (ASLT) Rachel Jones, the ship’s Assistant Supply Officer, said.

“Mail is always a massive morale booster on operations. It’s nice to know the people at home are thinking about us.”

Stores, water and fuel were received onboard to ready Newcastle for her next patrol and were delivered by the team from the RAN Liaison Office (RANLO), who travelled to the Seychelles from Bahrain to coordinate the port visit.

Newcastle also hosted an historic event: the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conditions of the Transfer of Suspected Pirates, Armed Robbers and Seized Property to the Seychelles.

The MOU was signed by Australian High Commissioner to the Seychelles, Her Excellency Ms Sandra Vegting, and Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Mr Joel Morgan.

While alongside, the crew also had an opportunity to explore Mahe Island, the tropical main island of the 115 that make up the Seychelles.

Some jumped at the chance to dive and snorkel in the aqua blue waters surrounding the atoll, while others recharged their batteries by meandering through local gift shops, and sampling the local cuisine.

Half way through the port visit, Newcastle left the wharf and went to anchor nearby. Her crew used local water taxis for one more run ashore before farewelling the tropical paradise and returning their full attention to the mission of countering terrorism, piracy and narcotics in the Indian Ocean.

Operation SLIPPER is the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990, and her visit to the Seychelles was the fourth by a RAN vessel since 2012.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130581.