HMAS Newcastle returns home

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Newcastle (F06)

Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Warwick Douglas stands with his fiancée and children after proposing to his partner on the wharf of Fleet Base East upon his return home from Operation MANITOU aboard HMAS Newcastle. (photo: ABIS Tom Gibson)
Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Warwick Douglas stands with his fiancée and children after proposing to his partner on the wharf of Fleet Base East upon his return home from Operation MANITOU aboard HMAS Newcastle.

After 180 days deployed, HMAS Newcastle returned triumphantly from the Middle East region to Garden Island, Sydney today.

Newcastle intercepted around 1.4 tonnes of heroin, valued at approximately AUD$1.2 billion dollars while deployed on Operation MANITOU.

The ship's company of 228 were welcomed back by Commodore Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy, along with family and friends.

Commodore Leavy said the narcotic seizures were significant and will have an impact.

"This was a remarkable effort and denied terrorist organisations funding and has taken the Australian Navy's total seizures in the Middle East over the last two years to an estimated street value of $AUD 2.3 billion."

Commanding Officer Newcastle, Commander Dominic MacNamara, said his ship's company had done an exceptional job.

"Everyone dug in and gave this deployment their all," Commander MacNamara said.

"Newcastle conducted 50 boardings and flew 70 sorties.

"This effort yielded a terrific result, of which we are very proud."

"Each of us is looking forward to sharing our success with our family and friends and thanking them for their support," Commander MacNamara said.

The wharf was a scene of celebration for more than just the homecoming. There was a marriage proposal from Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Warwick Douglas to his partner, Sheree Palmer, and a first-time meeting between father and son for Chief Petty Officer Cryptologic Systems Sean Hardy and newborn Isaac.

Operation MANITOU is Australia's contribution to counter terrorism, counter piracy, narcotics interdiction and improves overall stability to the Middle East region, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

Royal Australian Navy ships have been continuously deployed to the Middle East since the start of the first Gulf War in 1990.  Newcastle was 60th rotation.  The frigate was replaced on station by sister-ship, HMAS Melbourne.

Go to http://images.defence.gov.au/s20152649 for more images.