Navigating Middle Eastern Waters

Published on CPL Sebastian Beurich (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Topic(s): Counter-piracy, Counter-terrorism, Operation MANITOU, Defence Force Recruiting, HMAS Newcastle (F06)

Maritime Warfare Officer Lieutenant Stibbard stands on the forecastle of HMAS Newcastle while on Operation Manitou in the Middle East region.  (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Maritime Warfare Officer Lieutenant Stibbard stands on the forecastle of HMAS Newcastle while on Operation Manitou in the Middle East region.
Looking after the safety of a 4,000-tonne frigate and her crew as it sails thousands of nautical miles from home may seem like a big job, but it’s all in a day’s work for Lieutenant Shaun Stibbard.
 
The 25-year old is in HMAS Newcastle, which is currently deployed on Operation MANITOU, Australia’s commitment to security, stability and prosperity in Middle Eastern waters.
 
Although he grew up roaming around the New South Wales Snowy Mountains, Lieutenant Stibbard has found his home on the sea as a Maritime Warfare Officer.
 
Maritime Warfare Officers, as Commanding Officers' representatives, are responsible for the control and safety of Navy vessels at sea. Their first major qualification is the Navigation Watchkeeping Certificate, followed by the Bridge Warfare Certificate.
 
The Navigation Watchkeeping Certificate focuses on mariner skills and enables the holder to conduct a watch in a minor war vessel, such as a patrol boat.
 
The Bridge Warfare Certificate enables the holder to drive the Navy's major fleet units, including frigates such as Newcastle, as officer-of-the-watch.
 
“As an officer-of-the-watch, I keep watches on the bridge of the ship to ensure safe navigation and execution of our daily routines,” he said.
 
“I also work as a Boarding Officer, which sees me working with my team to conduct boarding operations in an effort to intercept illegal smuggling activities which may be happening in the area.
 
“It also helps to assure fishermen and merchant traders in the area that their vessels and personnel are secure in Middle Eastern waters.”
 
Although he previously deployed on Operation MANITOU in 2015, Lieutenant Stibbard said he was looking forward to experiencing some new ports and areas on this deployment.
 
“I really enjoy travelling to new parts of the world, and deploying on an operation which contributes to regional maritime security is a great way to do just that,” he said.
 
“It’s also great to get away from training off of the Australian station, especially with my colleagues and good friends among the crew.”

Newcastle returns to her home port at Fleet Base East, in Sydney, in early December this year.
 
For more information on roles in Maritime Warfare visit https://www.defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/navy/maritime-warfare-officer.