Forty years ago, a seaman was pushing aircraft around a flight deck as a 17-year-old, and the idea of one day becoming a Commander within Aviation seemed like an impossible dream. But now that seaman is a Commander deployed to operations in the Middle East and in a few months’ time will take up the role of Commander Air on one of Navy’s amphibious assault ships.
The aircraft handler turned aircrewman and now Aviation Warfare Instructor, has just ticked over four decades in the Royal Australian Navy in an important job in the Middle East contributing to maritime security.
Commander Terrence Garside is deployed on Operation Manitou in Bahrain as the Australian Senior National Representative to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces.
“Combined Maritime Forces comprises of 32 nations from across the globe and is focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment,” Commander Garside said.
The first time Commander Garside visited Bahrain was during a three-year exchange with the New Zealand Navy as Aircrew flying in the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite off a New Zealand frigate.
As a Leading Seaman Aircrewman in 1983, he spent six months in Al Gora, Northern Sinai, conducting Peace Keeping operations with the Multi-National Force and Observers. He later returned to the region as the plans officer for Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East, overseeing key operations, including our maritime commitment within Combined Maritime Forces.
HMAS Newcastle is Australia’s warship in the region.
When a vessel of interest is identified for Newcastle to board and inspect, or when Newcastle exercises with another nation’s ship – Commander Garside is the principal point of contact.
“With so many nations involved here, for Combined Maritime Forces to be effective, all participating nations need to be networked correctly,” he said.
“My job is to be the conduit between those other nations; I am the link between key personnel when Australian military assets are involved.”
While Commander Garside’s previous experience in the region has helped in his role as Senior National Representative, his aviation knowledge is also proving to be useful.
Over the course of his career, he has flown in almost every helicopter type commissioned by the Navy including the UH-1 Iroquois, Westland Wessex, AS350B Squirrel, Bell 206B, SH2-G Seasprite and Augusta 109. He has also operated in fixed wing aircraft including the Super King Air and Hawker Siddeley HS 748.
Commander Garside is imparting his knowledge to assist Combined Maritime Forces planning, which includes the operation of embarked aviation assets used to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance to identify suspicious vessels.
He said the opportunity to learn from other nations and to utilise his experience and knowledge is a key benefit of Australia’s commitment to Combined Maritime Forces.
“It is an outstanding opportunity to interact with other nationalities, to learn from each other and to improve processes while contributing to a mission that benefits the entire international community.
“I will use the experiences gained within the operational environment to develop professionally.”
Looking back on his career, Commander Garside said he was amazed at where the Navy had taken him.
“As a Seaman back in 1978 on the flight deck of our aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. When the Commander Aviation walked past I thought reaching such a position was unachievable,” he said.
“However, in the Royal Australian Navy, the world is your oyster with unparalleled opportunities.”
There are approximately 200 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed on Operation Manitou in the Middle East region predominately based on Newcastle and in various headquarters positions embedded with Combined Maritime Forces.