Old allies say g’day in the Middle East

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthea Baczkowski (author), ABIS Jake Badior (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU

Commanding Officer HMAS Success, Captain Justin Jones, RAN (right) with Commanding Officer HMS Kent, Commander Andrew Block, RN during a replenishment at sea evolution while in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU. (photo: Able Seaman Jake Badior)
Commanding Officer HMAS Success, Captain Justin Jones, RAN (right) with Commanding Officer HMS Kent, Commander Andrew Block, RN during a replenishment at sea evolution while in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU.

A replenishment at sea between Royal Navy ship, HMS Kent, and HMAS Success in the North Arabian Sea on 2 March provided an opportunity for each ship’s Executive Officer to work closely with a ship from their previous navies.

Both officers have had previous careers in the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy respectively, and have now transferred navies. During the evolution the officers assumed ‘conduct’ of the ship.

Executive Officer Success, Lieutenant Commander Chris Straughan, who transferred from the Royal Navy in 2009, said meeting up for multiple replenishments throughout respective deployments in the Middle East was a perfect example of how two navies, from opposite sides of the world, share a common heritage and enjoy strong traditional links and are able to operate together whenever they meet.

“In terms of transferring from the Royal Navy, the similarities between the two navies are sufficient to allow for relatively easy transition and integration while the differences provide enough challenges to keep me on my toes,” said Lieutenant Commander Straughan.

Meanwhile his counterpart in Kent, Lieutenant Commander Brian Trim was smiling back as he maintained station on Success from 140ft away on his own bridge wing.

Commanding Officer Kent Commander Andrew Block was transferred to Success via the British ship’s Lynx helicopter - SPARTAN. While the Commanding Officers met over breakfast, the Executive Officers of both ships ensured that the evolution was carried out safely.

To add to the encounter, the Commanding Officers of both ships have completed exchange programs with the opposite Navy. Commanding Officer Success Captain Justin Jones served as a Staff Warfare Officer with the Royal Navy's sea -going assessment team in 2002-03 while Commander Block served with the Australian Navy as Gunnery Officer in the frigate HMAS Canberra in 2000.

“It was great to come back to an Australian ship, enjoy a breakfast that is reminiscent of Bronte Beach, and to listen to the dulcet tones of AC/DC roll across the waves,” Commander Block said, referring to the music played from Success during the replenishment. 

Success will remain in the Middle East Region supporting operations for Combined Maritime Forces, within Task Force 53 and Combined Task Force 150, as part of Operation MANITOU until June, when she returns to Fleet Base East.