It was a personal, emotional and human story today as HMAS Newcastle returned triumphantly to Garden Island, Sydney, after a six-month Operation Manitou deployment.
While away, HMAS Newcastle seized and destroying more than $1-billion-worth of heroin in the Middle East.
But the ship’s company of 228 had missed wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters – and one girlfriend who received a very public proposal of marriage before the gangplank even hit the dock – and at least one son who only today met his dad for the first time.
Commanding Officer Newcastle Commander Dominic MacNamara, said his ship’s company had done an exceptional job.
“The men and women onboard Newcastle gave this deployment their all,” CMDR MacNamara said.
“This effort has yielded a terrific result, of which we are very proud.
“Each of us is looking forward to sharing our success with our family and friends, as their support has been vital during our six months away.”
HMAS Newcastle was officially welcomed home by Commander Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy.
Commodore Leavy said that during her mission, HMAS Newcastle intercepted and destroyed some 1.4 tonnes of heroin, valued at $1.2 billion.
“This was a remarkable effort which has denied terrorist organisations major funding,” he said.
“This deployment has taken the Australian Navy’s total seizures in the Middle East over the last two years to an estimated street value of $2.3 billion.
“Newcastle also conducted 50 boardings and [her helicopter] flew 70 sorties.”
Operation Manitou is Australia’s contribution to counter terrorism, counter piracy, narcotics interdiction and improving overall stability to the Middle East region, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Royal Australian Navy ships have been continuously deployed to the Middle East since the start of the first Gulf War in 1990. HMAS Newcastle was the 60th rotation.
She was replaced on station by her sister-ship, HMAS Melbourne.