HMAS Newcastle conducted her last port visit in the Middle East Area of Operations when she pulled into Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on 17 September.
It was a fitting location as Fujairah was Newcastle’s first official port of call during the deployment that it started back in May.
Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Craig Orme, who assumed his role as Commander only the day before, visited Newcastle and took the opportunity to address the crew on the flight deck.
MAJGEN Orme thanked the sailors and officers for their performance and conduct whilst deployed and congratulated the team on their collective achievements.
“You have lived by Navy’s Values and lived the Navy Signature Behaviours by acting in a way that has brought credit to your ship, Navy and Australia,” MAJGEN Orme said.
“It has been a truly remarkable performance, you have remained on task for more than 80 per cent of your deployment and not once have you been ‘not mission capable’.
“You have performed superbly by conducting over 150 boarding events and steaming more than 58,000km already, with more to come on the trip home.”
While Newcastle’s achievements belong to the entire crew, several individuals were singled out for their contribution.
MAJGEN Orme awarded CJTF633 Silver Commendations to Lieutenant Commander Chris Fingleton, Lieutenant Commander Ludovic Miller and Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics Supply Chain Matthew Thompson. CJTF633 Bonze Commendations were awarded to Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Graeme Cruickshank, Petty Officer Combat Systems Supervisor Rodney Cohan, Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Shaun Ryan and Able Seaman Marine Technician Thomas Ireland.
The Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) with the International Coalition Against Terror (ICAT) Clasp and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal were also presented to the crew by MAJGEN Orme.
LCDR Ludovic Miller, the ship’s Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer (WEEO), said he was surprised to have his efforts acknowledged.
“When my name was called, I was completely taken aback,” he said.
“Even though I was individually acknowledged today, this award is an acknowledgement of the efforts of the Weapons Electrical Engineering Department’s Officers and sailors since Newcastle sailed from IMAV13, last November,” LCDR Miller said.
Some of Newcastle’s crew departed the ship to return to Australia during the port visit. The purpose of sending the ‘Early Leavers’ home was to ensure that when Newcastle returns to Sydney, there is a team ready to take responsibility for the ship.
With the Early Leavers’ bunks free, Newcastle embarked a group of young officers and sailors who will undergo specialist training during the trip home.
With the port visit over, Newcastle returned to sea for her final patrol before proceeding to rendezvous with HMAS Melbourne.
Newcastle has been relieved by sister ship Melbourne for duties as part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in support of Operation SLIPPER.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131521.