Middle East mission develops sailor's skills

Published on WO2 Andrew Hetherington (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Perth (F157)

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Mitch Rodway in the Operations Room onboard HMAS Perth.  (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Mitch Rodway in the Operations Room onboard HMAS Perth.

Able Seaman Mitchell Rodway is a member of the ship's company of HMAS Perth who, like the ship, is on his first operational deployment to the Middle East region as part of Operation MANITOU.
He is a combat systems operator who works in the operations room on the ship.
"The operations room is the brains of the ship and I like working there as I always know where we are in the world," Able Seaman Rodway said.
"In my job I operate a radar and sonar console to monitor what is on and under the sea, and in the air. I also communicate with other ships in our area of operations.
"With the other people in the operations room, I form a picture for the ship's commanding officer to make decisions on what the ship should do." 
Able Seaman Rodway said his job was rewarding because it was challenging.
"The biggest challenge I had with this job when I was in training, was understanding what the job was about, as it is so complex and there's not another job outside Navy like it."
Apart from working in the operations room, for this deployment Able Seaman Rodway was also trained in another skill set.
"I'm a member of the ship’s boarding party, which I'm excited about," Able Seaman Rodway said.
"The team boards ships and dhows that we intercept to search for illegal cargo that helps fund international terrorism.
"To prepare for the role I've completed months of weapons, self defence, vessel boarding and search training."
Able Seaman Rodway finished high school in 2012 at Erindale College in Canberra.
"In 2013 I decided to join Navy after originally wanting to join the Air Force as my father was a fire fighter in Air Force," he said.
"I chose Navy because I thought it was a more exciting career because of the travel and going to sea."
In his spare time back home in Australia he's following in his father’s career footsteps by helping his local community in Western Australia.
"I volunteer with the Rockingham volunteer fire and rescue service," he said.
"I train with them twice a week when I'm not at work with Navy and react to call outs, such as gas leaks, fires and car accidents.
"Last year in Western Australia it was a pretty crazy fire season and I spent a few weeks fighting fires in December and January."
Able Seaman Rodway is valuing the opportunities of the mission.
"After hearing all the stories from my mates who had deployed here before, it’s been great to finally deploy myself," Able Seaman Rodway said.
"So far the work I've performed has been very satisfying." 
Operation MANITOU is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.
Its primary goal is to contribute to the United States-led Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 31 nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.