Cross-deck visits between HMAS Newcastle and RFA Fort Victoria

RFA Fort Victoria is a Fort-class oiler replenishment ship (AOR) commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1994. HMAS Newcastle is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1993.

A view from the other side

While operating together in the Gulf of Aden, HMAS Newcastle and the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) replenishment ship Fort Victoria, conducted a cross-deck for the day for six lucky sailors.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria’s fueling hose is connected to HMAS Newcastle during a Replenishment at Sea in the Gulf of Aden. ABBM Troy Bennett.

While the ships conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS) the sailors got to see their ships from a different angle.

Taking a break from the fuelling, Assistant Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Gareth Giles was fortunate to be cross-decked to Fort Victoria for the day and said it was good to see the RAS from a different point of view.

“What’s interesting are the differences between how the RAN and RFA operate. The amount of space they have is amazing. I was taken on a detailed tour and it was difficult to come back to Newcastle after seeing the single cabins with ensuites and the living conditions experienced on a RFA vessel!”

Visiting Fort Victoria with LEUT Gareth Giles was Leading Seaman Marine Technician Mathew Bland, Able Seaman Electronics Technician Jerrad Comber, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Adam O’Brien, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Personnel sailor Laura Johnson and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Troy Bennett.

HMAS Newcastle’s Lieutenant Gareth Giles, Leading Seaman Marine Technician Ethan Boland and Able Seaman Adam O’Brien ready for a helicopter transfer to Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria to experience life on a British ship. POEW Ben White.

LSMT Bland said it was a great to be able to see the RAS from the other side. He was taken on a tour of the Junior Sailors’ dining and living areas as well as the engineering spaces.

“It was such an amazing day and something I will never forget. It was so interesting to see how other sailors live and how their ship operates. The helicopter ride over there was also a first for me.”

Newcastle, in turn, also hosted several officers and sailors from the large replenishment ship, including Fort Victoria’s Medical Officer, Lieutenant Louise McMenemy.

Newcastle’s Medical Officer Lieutenant Natalie Boulton hosted LEUT McMenemy for a tour of the ship, and they watched a boarding operation from the Bridge before taking part in the sickbay afternoon tea session.

“The visit gave both Doctors the opportunity to share professional experiences and foster an understanding of how both could assist each other if the unforeseeable need should arise,” LEUT Boulton said.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria’s Medical Officer Lieutenant McMenemy receives a tour of HMAS Newcastle’s medical facilities from Medical Officer Lieutenant Natalie Boultan. LCDR Ludovic Miller.

Boarding Officer and Officer of the Watch (OOW) Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend hosted two RFA Maritime Warfare Officer Cadets.

“They were interested in talking about the cricket, funnily enough. I took them up showed them what a Warship’s Bridge looked like. They both enjoyed the experience, the opportunity to see how we do business on an Australian warship and observe a RAS from the customer’s point of view,” LEUT Fieldsend said.

Royal Fort Auxiliary (RFA) Cadet Pescodd, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend and RFA Cadet Rowe watch HMAS Newcastle conduct a Replenishment at Sea with RFA Fort Victoria. POEW Ben White

Newcastle is deployed to the MEAO as part of Operation SLIPPER, the Australian Defence Force contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, smuggling and piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and for enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Her current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.

(L-R) Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator James Maybury shows SG1 Mark Adams, RFA Fort Victoria around HMAS Newcastle. POEW Ben White.

HMAS Newcastle’s S70B-2 Helicopter lands on RFA Fort Victoria’s deck to collect members of Newcastle’s ships company. ABBM Troy Bennett.

Operation Slipper: Australia’s contribution to the War on Terror

HMAS Newcastle is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1993.

The Adelaide-class is a modified version of the US Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class in RAN service. Four ships were built in the US and two were built in Australian yards. The vessels are nearing the end of their operational life with two (Canberra and Adelaide) already decommissioned. They will be replaced by Hobart-class air defence destroyers from 2016 onward.

HMAS Newcastle participates in Counter Terrorism Operation

HMAS Newcastle’s boarding team conducts an approach and assist visit with a Dhow in the Middle East Area of Operations.

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship HMAS Newcastle is participating in a focused operation in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea as part of the international campaign against terrorism.

During the operation, Newcastle has conducted an Approach and Assist Visit (AAV) to a Yemeni flagged fishing vessel (dhow) in the Gulf of Aden.

Newcastle’s boarding party was invited to board the Yemeni flagged vessel by its crew, and donated a small quantity of sunglasses and sunscreen to the fishermen as a sign of good will.

AAVs are conducted regularly by coalition ships to foster good relationships with the local maritime community by approaching vessels and engaging in dialogue in the maritime environment. AAVs typically include confirmation of the welfare of the mariners, and seek information on what they may have seen in the area or any issues they may have.

Newcastle’s Boarding Officer, Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend said his boarding party was well received by the crew of the Yemeni fishing vessel.

“It’s all about building relationships with them and letting them know that we’re in the area to protect them and to keep the region secure,” LEUT Fieldsend said.

“For most of these fishermen, security in the maritime environment directly relates to their ability to make a living. So, most of them are very happy to see us out here conducting patrols,” he said.

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain.

CTF 150’s Area of Operation (AOO) spans over two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman. The task force exists to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities.

Newcastle’s participation in CTF 150 is part of her assignment to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990. She is due to return to Australia in October, after handing over Operation SLIPPER duties to HMAS Melbourne.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at

HMAS Newcastle makes port visit in Tanzania

HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) is an Adelaide class guided-missile frigate. She was built by AMECON (now Tenix) at Williamstown Dockyard and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 11th December 1993. Design for the Adelaide class frigates was based on the US Navy Oliver Hazard Perry class.

Newcastle stops in Dar es Salaam

Warrant Officer Phil Smit (Ships Warrant Officer) pays his respects at the World War I and II memorial at Dar es Salaam, Upanga Road, Cemetery.

HMAS Newcastle visited the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam from 16-20 June 2013 after a busy patrol period in the Somali Basin.

The port was Newcastle’s second since arriving in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on 27 May and marks the first visit to the city by a Royal Australian Navy warship since 1985.

The visit strengthened ties between the two nations with formal engagements, while the four-day visit allowed the crew some much earned rest and relaxation.

A highlight of the trip was the opportunity for members of ship’s company to experience the local culture, bartering for souvenirs at the local markets and taking safari tours of the national parks which allowed members to get up close with animals such as lions, zebras and elephants.

POML-C Jeremy Bowman was one of more than half of ship’s company who took full advantage of the rare opportunity.

“The safari allowed us to experience some local animals and terrain. The highlight of my tour was when a family of eight elephants almost attacked the bus,” he said.

“To say I have experienced an African safari is a once in a lifetime event and it will not easily be forgotten.”

ABEW Georgina Herdmun was also on the tour and took the opportunity to photograph the unique sights.

“Getting to see the animals in their natural habitat was well worth the long drive in the bus. It was a great day out and I had a lot of fun,” she said.

Some members of ship’s company, including LSML-SC Sarah Hickling also attended a World Cup football qualifying match between Tanzania and Ivory Coast.

“Having this rare opportunity is without a doubt my highlight of the deployment to date,” she said.

“Being surrounded by 80,000 passionate Tanzanians cheering on their National team against an opposition that includes world class players was an exhilarating experience I will never forget.”

“To see Tanzania win would have been a fairytale ending pushing them through to qualify, unfortunately the more experienced Ivory Coast outplayed them to win 4-2.”

Newcastle hosted Tanzanian Defence Force personnel including Chief of Navy Major General Omar on board for a luncheon catered for by the ships cooks and stewards during the port visit. A contingent of Tanzanian sailors was also hosted for tours of Newcastle.

The Ship’s Company also paid respects at the Dar es Salaam Commonwealth War Cemetery to those who fell in the two World Wars and contains the graves of two Australian servicemen who died in the First World War: Stoker William Bryant of HMAS Pioneer and Lighthorse Trooper James Gilbert.

Chaplain Grant Ludlow led a small contingent to remember the fallen in a remembrance ceremony including the Ship’s Warrant Officer, WO Phil Smith, who laid a wreath on behalf of the ship’s company.

“The cemetery sits in amongst the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam, quite innocuously, and the gardens are meticulously maintained,” WO Smith said after the visit.

“The grounds were peaceful and had a calming, almost reflective feel to them – fitting for the last resting place for these Australian Servicemen.”

Having thoroughly enjoyed the visit and recharged the batteries, Newcastle sailed on 20 June to commence her second patrol in support of OP SLIPPER and CTF150.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at