Maryborough man fights pirates on the high seas

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author), POIS Ollie Garside (photographer)

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

Seaman Aaron Clancy onboard HMAS Newcastle deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO). (photo: POIS Ollie Garside)
Seaman Aaron Clancy onboard HMAS Newcastle deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).

Seaman (SMN) Aaron Clancy started his working life as a trolley collector at a Maryborough shopping centre. Now he’s helping HMAS Newcastle fight the threat of piracy on the high seas.

Newcastle is currently conducting counter piracy, counter narcotics and counter terrorism duties in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO), deployed to the area as part of Operation SLIPPER.

SMN Clancy works in the ship’s Operations Room as an Electronic Warfare (EW) sailor. His job involves collecting information using high-tech equipment to help defend Newcastle from missiles and other airborne and surface threats.

“I love that the job we are doing is for real and that no two days are the same. Especially out here on operations, we have to remain vigilant,” SMN Clancy said.

The former Maryborough State High School student is also training to qualify as a Ship’s Diver.

“That qualification will mean that I can be part of the small team of people who dive to inspect the ship’s hull and propulsion, and remove any debris which may diminish our capabilities at sea,” he said.

This is SMN Clancy’s first operational deployment since joining the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2012, at the age of 17. He’s the youngest member of Newcastle’s crew.

“The stand-out thing about this deployment has been the areas we are operating in - and really making a difference in. It’s amazing how much our mission out here at sea has to do with the mission of Australian troops on the ground in Afghanistan,” said SMN Clancy, referring to Newcastle’s mission to counter the smuggling of weapons and trafficking of narcotics which fund terrorism.

For his service in the MEAO, SMN Clancy has earned the Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) and the Afghanistan campaign medal.

He said that he is looking forward to returning home in October, but for the next three months he’ll be focused on the mission.

“When I get home, I want to spend time with family and friends and have a home cooked meal. I’m also looking forward to buying a house,” SMN Clancy said.

“But, right now I am really proud to be out here serving my country,” he said.

Operation SLIPPER is the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.