Band of Brothers pass the baton

Published on LEUT Robert Perry (author), ABIS Jayson Tufrey (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER, HMAS Melbourne (F05), HMAS Newcastle (F06)

(L-R) LEUT Thomas Craig, ABCSO Samuel Ryan, LSCIS Daniel Lewis from HMAS Melbourne and their respective brothers, LSET Chris Lewis, LSBM Shaun Ryan and LEUT Tim Craig, on HMAS Melbourne while in transit to the Middle East Area of Operations. (photo: ABIS Jayson Tufrey)
(L-R) LEUT Thomas Craig, ABCSO Samuel Ryan, LSCIS Daniel Lewis from HMAS Melbourne and their respective brothers, LSET Chris Lewis, LSBM Shaun Ryan and LEUT Tim Craig, on HMAS Melbourne while in transit to the Middle East Area of Operations.

The prospect of handing over and heading home after a long deployment is reason enough to smile, but for three members of HMAS Newcastle there was an added incentive.

When Newcastle handed over Operation SLIPPER responsibilities to sister ship HMAS Melbourne on 24 September 2013, three members had the opportunity to cross deck and shake their brothers’ hands and wish them well as they continued the mission on Melbourne.

For LS Chris Lewis of Newcastle, the chance to catch up on family events made the trip home even sweeter. His brother, LS Daniel Lewis, works in Melbourne’s Communications Centre.

“It was awesome to be able to catch up with Dan and congratulate him - in person - on his recent engagement. I look forward to seeing him again in six months time,” LS Chris Lewis said.

Following the helicopter ride across to Melbourne’s flight deck, LS Shaun Ryan did not waste the opportunity to meet up with his brother, AB Samuel Ryan, for the first time in over six months.

“It’s really good to have the opportunity to see Sam after such a long deployment. I’m also looking forward to getting home. I’ll have a cold one waiting for him when he gets back,” LS Shaun Ryan said.

Fresh from his role as Newcastle’s Flight Operations Officer, where their S-70B-2 Seahawk has completed more than 300 hours of flying operations, LEUT Timothy Craig knows his brother, LEUT Thomas Craig, has his work cut out for him.

“It’s great to catch-up. As we both have the same job on board, I’m in the unique position of having my brother as my opposite number. It’s a good feeling to be handing over the reins and heading home,” LEUT Timothy Craig said.

LEUT Thomas Craig said Melbourne’s team is up for the challenge.

“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to see my brother. It’s an opportunity very few people get and it was nice to catch-up, if only briefly.

Melbourne’s crew has shown during our recent work up period that we are more than ready for the job ahead and I can't wait to contribute to the mission from an airborne perspective. I look forward to seeing with my brother, my partner and the rest of my family on our return to Australia,” he said.

Melbourne is currently on patrol in the Middle East Area of Operations in support of the International Coalition Against Terrorism, conducting tasking as directed by Joint Task Force 633.

Melbourne is the 56th Royal Australian Navy ship to rotate through the Middle East since the first Gulf War in 1990, and is the 32nd ship to deploy to the Middle East as part of Operations SLIPPER and CATALYST since September 2001.

Melbourne will be relieved early next year by HMAS Darwin before heading home to Fleet Base East, Sydney.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131590.