Santa duties for sailors at sea over Christmas

Published on SBLT Bianca Wise (author), LSIS Jo Dilorenzo (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation RESOLUTE, HMAS Pirie (P87)

Commanding Officer of Attack Two, Lieutenant Steven Noakes ready to set sail for a Christmas patrol in northern Australian waters.
 (photo: LSIS Jo Dilorenzo)
Commanding Officer of Attack Two, Lieutenant Steven Noakes ready to set sail for a Christmas patrol in northern Australian waters.

Cairns resident Steve Noakes is the closest thing to Santa this Christmas for his Patrol Boat crew of 21 who are away from home conducting security operations in Australia's northern waters.

Approximately 500 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are deployed this Christmas to Operation RESOLUTE, the ADF's contribution to Australia's whole of government border security effort.

As Commanding Officer of the Attack TWO crew currently embarked in HMAS Pirie, Lieutenant (LEUT) Noakes is responsible for the ship's company, a role he embraces with great pride.

“I'm working with an exceptional group of people in Attack TWO,” LEUT Noakes said.

“To see people operate in a professional manner when called upon to do so, it's very rewarding and inspiring.”

The patrol boats and their crew of 21 provide surveillance and response to counter eight distinct maritime threats including terrorism, people smuggling, illegal fishing, prohibited imports and exports, quarantine risks, pollution, piracy and other illegal activity.

LEUT Noakes is finding a way for the ship’s company to celebrate Christmas within the complex and high tempo operation at the border.

“We have some plans to celebrate Christmas, but for the most part we will be focused on the job at hand.”

This is the fourth Christmas away from home for the Commanding Officer who although is used to the travel is certainly missing his loved ones back home.

“I hope that my wife Kim and father in law Arthur, have a great Christmas,” Steve said, “and to my two sons, Peter and Jarrod, I am very proud of them both and I will be thinking of them.”

LEUT Noakes joined the Royal Australian Navy as a junior recruit in 1981.

Growing up in Perth but now settled in Cairns the Queenslander has come a long way to his current position as Commanding Officer of an Armidale Class Patrol Boat deployed on Operation RESOLUTE.

When talking about Cairns and the reasons why Steve loves his home town the 48 year old put it down to a few key factors.

“I love my home town because my two boys live there,” the Maritime Warfare Officer said.

“There is so much to do and see with good friends and a fantastic lifestyle all round.”

On completion of the deployment Steve is looking forward to returning home for a catch up with his sons and spending time with his wife Kim.

“Kim makes a famous creamy mushroom and bacon pasta,” Steve said.

“I can't wait to see the family and celebrate Christmas when I get home.”