In mid-July, while patrolling off the coast of Oman, Her Majesty Australian Ship (HMAS) Newcastle and French Ship (FS) Var met at sea to lead several interactions. Both units were operating in the frame of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) missions, to fight against terrorism and related illicit activities inside the Indian Ocean. The ships Commanding Officer’s organised a cross deck and a tour between the two platforms to foster coalition relations. Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, CMDR Dominic MacNamara, along with eight members of ship’s company visited Surcouf while Newcastle hosted Surcouf’s Executive Officer and eight French officers and sailors.
Newcastle’s CO, CMDR MacNamara, spoke of the benefit’s to be gained from occasions such as these.“These engagements further support Newcastle’s and the Royal Australian Navy’s relations abroad, especially considering our close ties with the French Navy operating as part of the Combined Maritime Forces”, he said. The lunch also provided good face-to-face time for the two Commanding Officers to discuss CTF-150 operations in the region in depth.
All members of the Newcastle contingent were treated to an extensive tour of the French Frigate, LEUT Watkin stating that “I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet other members of the coalition task group and discuss the different experiences within the operation.”
The “Chippy”, CPOMT Graeme Louk, did not take long to find the keel of the ship as he inspected its engineering spaces, while Assistant Marine Engineer Officer, LEUT Joseph McCullagh, explored Surcouf’s Damage Control Central; discussing Damage Control processes and procedures with the Damage Control Officer and Deputy Marine Engineer Officer. LCDR Anita Nemarich said that “it was a very successful visit, which was a great experience for both crews.”
CTF-150 is one of three naval task forces operated by CMF, which is a multinational naval partnership of 30 nations. CTF 150’s principal mission is to suppress the exploitation of the maritime environment by those who keep up links with terrorist organizations. CTF 150 is committed to building maritime counter-terrorism capability in regional navies and to promoting regional security and stability. Its vessels also assist mariners in distress and other humanitarian work as required.