Navy a second family for Able Seaman

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Mark Doran (author and photographer)

Location(s): Manama, Bahrain

Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman Marine Logistics - Personnel Kathy Kiryakos, of HMAS Darwin, prepares for a patrol in the Middle East region from the Naval Support Activity base in Manama, Bahrain, during Operation Manitou. (photo: Corporal Mark Doran)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman Marine Logistics - Personnel Kathy Kiryakos, of HMAS Darwin, prepares for a patrol in the Middle East region from the Naval Support Activity base in Manama, Bahrain, during Operation Manitou.

Harmony Day, 21 March, celebrates cultural diversity - it's about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. 

The Royal Australian Navy continues to celebrate the capability that diversity brings, so here's a profile of one sailor currently on operations who brings a bit of Medditerranean to the mix.

Mediterranean family values are extremely strong and transcend many generations, but one Greek-Australian sailor has discovered an even bigger, extended family onboard HMAS Darwin.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Personnel Operations Kathy Kiryakos, from the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh, is deployed in Darwin, which is conducting maritime security patrols in the Middle East region as part of Operation MANITOU.

Darwin’s primary goal is to contribute to the Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 31-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

Able Seaman Kiryakos works in Darwin’s ship’s registry and is primarily responsible for personnel management and administration of the ship’s company.

“Every day is different aboard the warship,” she said.

“I’m also a member of the Ship’s Emergency Medical Team and assist the Flight Deck Team when called upon.

“We were constantly training and doing damage control exercises during the workups as we prepared for the mission.”

Darwin is predominately tasked to support Combined Task Force 150 for maritime security and counter-terrorism operations and Combined Task Force 151 for counter-piracy operations.

Combined Task Force 150’s area of operations spans more than two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.

Able Seaman Kiryakos said she was the first member of her family to join the military.

“It was a spur of the moment decision to join the Navy in 2013, it really came down to an advertisement I saw in the newspaper,” she said.

“I completed a business traineeship when I finished school, so the Marine Logistics – Personnel trade suited me well.

“Enlisting was a shock to my system as I hadn’t done a lot of sport or fitness training before.

“Now I am fit, on my first sea posting, my first deployment and my first time overseas.

“It is all new and very exciting.”

Able Seaman Kiryakos is from a large Greek community, she grew up speaking and writing Greek at home and during her schooling at the Oakleigh Greek Orthodox College.

“I am the youngest child of a close knit family, but I was the first to leave home,” she said.

Darwin’s crew is also close knit as they are always encouraging and looking out for each other.

“It is the best part of the Navy and I have made many new friends.

“My family misses me, but they are very proud.”

Since leaving Australia with Darwin, Able Seaman Kiryakos has already visited ports in South-East Asia, India and Bahrain.

From 23-25 February Darwin joined the French Carrier Strike Group Charles de Gaulle to provide escort, force protection support and combined training operations in the Gulf of Oman.

The Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the Gulf to participate in operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq as part of US Naval Forces Central Command's Task Force 50.

During the Australian warship’s counter-terrorism mission, she will also visit places such as Muscat in Oman and Port Victoria in the Seychelles.

Able Seaman Kiryakos said it was an eye-opening experience to be a part of Operation MANITOU onboard the frigate. 

“I can see we will make a difference,” she said.

“We are putting all our training into practice and we will help to keep illicit drugs off our streets.”

Operation Manitou is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.