Able Seaman Naomi Thornthwaite is packing her bags and preparing to farewell her family and friends for more than six months. The Maritime Logistics - Supply Chain sailor from Campbelltown, in Sydney’s inner west, will deploy to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on Sunday in the Australian warship HMAS Melbourne, to join the international campaign against terrorism.
In the MEAO, AB Thornthwaite and her 240 shipmates will conduct maritime security patrols as part of Operation SLIPPER. Their mission is to counter terrorism, smuggling and piracy in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
AB Thornthwaite is a Campbelltown Performing Arts High School graduate who particularly enjoyed studying Information Technology and Visual Design. She joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2009, inspired by the promise of a life of travel and adventure, and with a strong desire to try something outside of her comfort zone and ‘do things she wouldn't normally do’.
After completing 11 weeks of recruit training at HMAS Cerberus and eight weeks of initial employment training in her chosen job category (supply), she was posted to the fleet to properly begin her life as a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy.
AB Thornthwaite’s day-to-day life involves supplying all the departments onboard Melbourne with stores and providing logistics support.
Her career highlights to date include providing logistics support from ashore during Exercises TRITON STORM, TRITON WARRIOR and TALISMAN SABRE, deploying in HMAS Perth on the bi-annual Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), which was conducted off the coast of Hawaii in 2012, and serving in HMAS Choules when the MHR-90 Multirole Helicopter first entered service in the Royal Australian Navy.
“My greatest highlight was having the chance to serve at sea with my brother, Able Seaman Medic Owen Thornthwaite, during Melbourne’s pre-deployment work-up training earlier this year,” she said.
For her service in the MEAO, AB Thornthwaite will earn the Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. She has previously earned the Australian Defence Medal, which marks four years of service in the Australian Defence Force.
She is already looking forward to seeing her family waiting on the wharf at Fleet Base East, Sydney, when she returns home next year.
Melbourne’s deployment with be the 56th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990. She will relieve HMAS Newcastle, which is currently on station in the region.