Operational ‘old hand’ keeps comms on point

Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, Operation SLIPPER, HMAS Newcastle (F06), HMAS Darwin (F04)

Leading Seaman Communication and Information Systems Christopher Soles on the starboard waist of HMAS Newcastle. (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Leading Seaman Communication and Information Systems Christopher Soles on the starboard waist of HMAS Newcastle.

Life as a communication sailor in the Navy brings a world of possibilities, as Leading Seaman Chris Soles has discovered.

Embarked in warship HMAS Newcastle on his third deployment to the Middle East region Leading Seaman Communication and Informations Systems Soles is keeping critical information flowing between the ship and shore.

“This is the second time I’ve deployed on Operation MANITOU. I last went on Darwin in 2016 and in 2013 I sailed on Newcastle for Operation SLIPPER,” he said.

“My job onboard is running the telecommunications systems including the automated networks, data links and circuits, supported by Local Area Networks. I also handle inter-ship and ship to shore communications by radio, satellite and electronic mail.

“When the boarding party is deployed, I make sure that they can communicate with the ship.”

He said the innovations in technology keep his role interesting.

“The work is always changing and technology is becoming more complex and interwoven. It’s interesting to see how things are evolving,” Leading Seaman Soles said.

“I’d rather be doing this than sitting behind a desk!”

As a more experienced member of the ship’s company Leading Seaman Soles said he has shared some tips with first timers.

“It’s important to pace yourself over the six-month deployment as 90 per cent of the time it is day to day runnings, however 10 per cent of the time it’s really exciting as the rubber hits the road.

“The team I work with in the communications centre is pretty good. We have a mix of junior operators and a few old hands, so we have a good mix of experience.”

Newcastle is currently deployed on Operation MANITOU is conducting maritime security operations in support of the US-led Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 31 nation partnership focussed on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

Newcastle is the 65th rotation of an Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990.