Newcastle fighting fit for challenges ahead

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS Jason Tuffrey (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Newcastle (F06), Exercise KAKADU

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Mandy Collie exercises on the flight deck of HMAS Newcastle while Japanese Navy Ship, JS Fuyuzuki follows behind during Exercise KAKADU 2016. (photo: LSIS Justin Brown)
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Mandy Collie exercises on the flight deck of HMAS Newcastle while Japanese Navy Ship, JS Fuyuzuki follows behind during Exercise KAKADU 2016.

The win at the Exercise KAKADU sports day, beating teams from 19 nations, was no accident for HMAS Newcastle.

Anyone who has been on the Royal Australian Navy frigate will attest to the crew’s dedication to physical fitness.

Despite the increased operations of Exercise KAKADU, many of the men and women in Newcastle made time between war fighting activities to stay fit.

Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor Ben Knight said the culture was driven from the top down.

“The Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and all the Heads of Department are very fitness minded which makes my job easy. Their attendance at the classes means there are no excuses for others not to attend,” he said.

“Good fitness gives people confidence. By being fitter and healthier, our members remain an elite military force.

“The attitude of the Newcastle crew is infectious. Every morning and afternoon, our fitness classes attract up to 60 of the 190 crew, which keeps everyone motivated,” Petty Officer Knight said.

Lieutenant Commander Buncha Nakasiri of the Royal Thai Fleet, an observer in Newcastle during Exercise KAKADU began attending classes a day after joining the ship.

“Thai ships do not have an exercise regime, but I will seek to introduce one on my return,” Lieutenant Commander Nakasiri said.

Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Sirois, said the crew needed to keep fit during KAKADU to ensure they were well set up for the busy schedule over the next 12 months.

The ship has just completed a two month work up, participated in Exercise NORTHERN SHIELD with the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force before joining Exercise KAKADU.

“At the end of this month, Newcastle will take part in Exercise SINGAROO with the Singapore Navy, then sails to Townsville for Exercise SEA RAIDER in October, and then a six month deployment to the Middle East next year," Commander Sirois said.

“Promoting an active ship was something I pushed quite heavily when I took command.

“Not only does a healthy body help with a healthy mind, physical fitness classes are great for esprit de corps.

“You sense that Newcastle is not just a fighting fit crew, but also a really positive crew that genuinely enjoys working for each other,” Commander Sirois said.