While the bulk of the Australian Navy presence in the Middle East region is patrolling the region’s waters in the frigate, HMAS Newcastle, one Petty Officer’s job is to keep the communications links on point from ashore in United States Navy headquarters in Manama, Bahrain.
Petty Officer Communication and Information Systems Timothy Hall provides support to the Maritime Operations Support Group, which contributes to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces and other task forces.
There are 32 nations in the combined forces, focussed on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.
“I am the sole Australian ICT support member deployed to Bahrain responsible for administering and maintaining national systems in location,” Petty Officer Hall said.
“I also provide communications support to the 13 Australian personnel who primarily make up the support group and I facilitate communications with the ship.”
HMAS Newcastle is currently patrolling Middle Eastern waters under Combined Task Force 150 for counter terrorism.
While the bulk of Petty Officer Hall’s time is spent on fault-finding and other standard computer technology tasks, he has contributed to a multi-national project to enhance Newcastle’s capability.
“I am currently attempting to get a new system installed on the ship to communicate with international partners,” he said.
“This has required a lot of liaison with the many different stakeholders.”
Working within the headquarters, Petty Officer Hall has had some unique opportunities to develop professionally, but like a true sailor, he looks fondly back on his time at sea.
“The last time I was in the region was on HMAS Anzac in 2012/13 as part of Operation Slipper,” he said.
“I deployed at the perfect time, just after my promotion course and spending time at sea with an amazing crew and group of senior sailors made a fantastic experience.”
In addition to the friendships made, his time at sea helped prepare him for his current role.
“It gave me an understanding of the Middle East region, of the reporting processes and how we fit into the bigger picture.”
In addition to Bahrain, Petty Officer Hall’s Navy career has taken him to Hawaii, China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Guam as well as other Middle Eastern countries.
Petty Officer Hall joined the Navy in 2005 for an adventure – something he has definitely achieved.
Nearing the end of his deployment, he said he will miss his Australian and coalition colleagues and the weekly cross-fit sessions but will return to Australia to the Defence Force School of Signals detachment in Sydney where he will pass on his operational experience.