Patrolling the high seas in a warship thousands of kilometres from home is the new reality for Leading Seaman Boastwains Mate Isaac Janes, who sailed for the Middle East region recently.
Leading Seaman Janes is one of the team onboard HMAS Newcastle, deployed for Operation MANITOU.
“I’m one of the experts in small arms gunnery,” he said.
“I’m responsible for the maintenance of the rifles and pistols onboard the ship and train other ship’s company in the use and handling of the weapons.”
During the six-month deployment, he is serving as a member of the ship’s boarding party, which will see him board dhows looking for drugs and other items used to fund terrorist activities.
“The job can be pretty demanding, due to the environment that we’re working in. It can be really hot and busy on the open sea, depending on the season. It’s important to keep hydrated, stay cool and be ready to go at a moment's notice to do the work that we need to do,” Leading Seaman Janes said.
Since mid 2014, Royal Australian Navy ships assigned to Operation MANITOU have interdicted vessels carrying narcotics on 19 occasions and illicit weapons twice.
The last time Newcastle deployed on MANITOU in 2015, her ship’s company seized narcotics valued at over AUD $413 million.
“We’re hoping to do one better,” Leading Seaman Janes said.
“The team is really very good and professional. We’re well trained and ready to go whenever the job demands it.”
This is his first Middle East deployment, though he has seen a great deal of the world with Navy.
Highlights include a Northern Trident world trip and supporting humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in Vanuatu and the Philippines.
While he has deployed many times, Leading Seaman Janes said it never gets easier waving goodbye.
“I’ve left my fiancé Caityln and two young boys behind. It is always hard to say goodbye, but they’re used to me going away,” he said.
“Caitlyn is an awesome mother so she had everything prepared before we sailed and is ready for the six month stretch,” he said.
While deployed, Newcastle may undertake missions involving counter-terrorism, counter-piracy, security cooperation and regional engagements, as part of the Australian contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity.