A port visit in Oman in early September has proved the perfect conclusion HMAS Newcastle’s fifth and final patrol for Operation MANITOU in the Middle East Region.
Prior to starting the long journey home on 6 September, the Royal Australian Navy frigate hosted a visit from the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Mr Steven Ciobo.
Lieutenant Stephen Blume, Newcastle’s Operations Officer, briefed the guests of Newcastle’s highly successful Operation MANITOU deployment including the seizure of 1,525kg of narcotics with a conservative street-value of more than AUD$1.222 billion.
The presentation also provided an opportunity to explain some of the difficulties faced by both Newcastle and the Combined Maritime Forces in stemming the flow of income-generating narcotics in the region.
Newcastle’s ships company were given the opportunity to talk with the Parliamentary Secretary during an informal afternoon tea after the brief.
Petty Officer Communication and Information Systems Michael Baruch, who calls Mr Ciobo’s Moncrieff electorate home, took advantage of the opportunity to meet his local member.
Petty Officer Baruch said it was an honour to be able to meet and shake the hand of his local political representative while deployed so far away from home.
“It was refreshing to know our MPs can take the time out of their busy schedule to meet members of the ADF deployed in the Middle East,” he said
Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Dominic MacNamara, said it was a pleasure to host such distinguished company onboard, particularly when the ship was deployed.
“The importance of such visits cannot be overstated,” he said.
“It allows fleet units to raise awareness of the outstanding work undertaken by members of the Royal Australian Navy deployed on operations.”
The visit concluded with the traditional gifting of a ship's ball cap and coin.
HMAS Newcastle departed her home port at Fleet Base East in Sydney in April and replaced the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel HMAS Success as the Australian major fleet unit contributing to the Combined Maritime Forces from 28 April 2015.
Operation MANITOU is Australia’s military contribution to the international effort to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East via counter terrorism, counter piracy and narcotics interdiction operations.