Able Seaman (AB) Lauren McAuliffe is experiencing a sea change this year, celebrating Christmas on a Navy patrol boat instead of at home in Geelong with her family.
“It’s a big change to Nan and Pa’s usual get together, but I love what we do on operations, and the crew onboard work so closely together that we have become one big family,” Lauren said.
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.
It will be a bitter sweet change for the 25-year-old Communications Information Systems (CIS) sailor who loves her career in the Royal Australian Navy, but confessed to missing a family Christmas in Geelong.
“I have a big extended family so that’s one thing I’m going to miss this year, having about 60 people on Christmas Day for lunch and dinner,” the former Clonard College student said.
“My dad is one of 10 kids so there are 21 cousins on my dad’s side alone and we’ve always had Christmas in Leopold at Nan’s house.
“With so many people there are four aunts preparing 50 potatoes each, it’s a real event.”
Although Lauren’s Nan, Bernice, and her Pa, George, at 84 and 85 years of age have long upheld the family Christmas tradition, they are proud for their granddaughter to deploy this year.
“They’re really proud you can tell, each time when I call they say hello sailor - even all my cousins my age and older love my Navy stories, I definitely have a cool job.”
AB McAuliffe is the only permanent female in the boarding party within the Attack Five crew currently embarked in HMAS Glenelg.
“Like police officers and firefighters, you’re providing a service to people who need it, you’re really helping people.
“It’s an awesome feeling.”
Up to seven of the Royal Australian Navy’s Armidale Class Patrol Boats operating from Darwin and Cairns are deployed at sea at anyone time, conducting maritime border security operations in Australia’s northern waters.
“Ashmore Reef is just one of the many islands we regularly visit while conducting illegal fishing patrols. With white sands and beautiful blue water, it’s an awesome place to work.”
Approximately 500 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are deployed to Operation RESOLUTE, the ADF’s contribution to Australia’s whole of government border security effort.