Newcastle hosts family reunion

Published on CPO Ben Hall (author), LSIS Brenton Freind (photographer)

Location(s): Mumbai, India

Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Rahul Mahajan with his mother and father as he is reunited after not seeing them for more than six years after HMAS Newcastle arrives in Mumbai, India. 

L-R: Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Ben Hall, Vaishali Mahajan (mother), LSET Rahul Mahajan, Vishvas Mahajan (father), Ships Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Vaughan Heath and brother-in-law Nilesh Deshpande. (photo: Leading Seaman Imagery Specialist Brenton Freind)
Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Rahul Mahajan with his mother and father as he is reunited after not seeing them for more than six years after HMAS Newcastle arrives in Mumbai, India. L-R: Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Ben Hall, Vaishali Mahajan (mother), LSET Rahul Mahajan, Vishvas Mahajan (father), Ships Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Vaughan Heath and brother-in-law Nilesh Deshpande.

HMAS Newcastle had the privilege of accommodating a unique family reunion during a recent port visit to Mumbai, India.

Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Rahul Mahajan was reunited with his parents and extended family as the ship pulled alongside Indira Dock. This was the first time in six years that he had returned home and seen his family.

Newcastle visited Mumbai for a four day visit, prior to commencing counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations in the Middle East, in support of Operation MANITOU. Leading Seaman Mahajan is currently posted to Newcastle as an underwater systems maintainer.

After greeting his parents at the main security gate, his parents stated they were very happy to have Rahul home.

Leading Seaman Mahajan grew up in a very strict and traditional Marathi family, along with his extended family, in the city of Nashik. Nashik lies 170km away from Mumbai and is the third largest city in Maharashtra State, behind Mumbai and Pune, with an approximate population of 1.9 million people. Nashik is a well-known holy place for pilgrims, tourism, agriculture, and wine production.

Leading Seaman Mahajan said the 'native leave' was a rare treat and he felt very positive about the upcoming deployment.

"I am re-energised and looking forward to participating in Operation MANITOU over the coming months.

"It has been a delight to see my friends and family after such a long time away," he said.

Leading Seaman Mahajan moved to Melbourne in 2000 to study, achieving a diploma in Electronics and Telecommunications in 2003. At the age of 25 he received a job offer to work back in Mumbai as an assistant to the senior scientist at Tata Fundamental Research Centre for Nuclear Science and Mathematics. However, he decided to continue further studies abroad along with a friend from Nashik.

Leading Seaman Mahajan joined the Navy in May 2005 to pursue his electronics career in what he considers a much more exciting environment. He has previously served in HMAS Sydney and this is his second posting to sea. During Newcastle’s berthing in Mumbai he was able to use his native Hindi to interpret and clarify requirements with the embarked harbour pilot, which proved invaluable to the Navigations Officer and the Commanding Officer. 

Leading Seaman Mahajan spent the weekend with his family at his home in Nashik. He utilised the opportunity to visit the majority of his extended family in the city, and managed to catch up with many friends from school, some of which he had not seen for 25 years. Leading Seaman Mahajan’s father said he was happy to see that Rahul’s decision to remain in Australia had worked out so well and that he was very proud of his achievements.