By Flight Lieutenant Bel Scott
HMAS Newcastle continues to provide the critical role of primary defence for HMAS Canberra and the wider protection for the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19) fleet.
As it transits from west to east on its final mission, the Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate has been at Canberra’s side.
“Even though she is an older ship with older combat systems and sensors, she’s very capable."
The operations room supervisor and combat systems supervisor, Petty Officer Bianca Sherrington, said Newcastle used sensors and liaised with the other Royal Australian Navy ships to provide an up-to-date force picture for the IPE19 Joint Task Force.
“In the current task force, Newcastle is the air-warfare and electronic warfare coordinator in charge of the air, space and electronics spectrum. We’re the superior air defence unit with our long-range missiles,” Petty Officer Sherrington said.
“As a warship, we are more tactically focused – it’s our job to protect the high-value ship Canberra.”
The ship’s company has also participated in military-to-military training, community engagement activities and diverse maritime evolutions throughout the IPE19 deployment.
“Some of our interactions with partner nations have been unique to IPE19, such as live contact time with the kilo-class submarine in India,” Petty Officer Sherrington said.
“We were able to demonstrate interoperability during our participation with the Indian Navy through several successful serials during AUSINDEX 19.”
Principal warfare officer Lieutenant Hayden Clark said it had been an honour to be part of IPE19 on board Newcastle.
“Newcastle is a fundamental force to the IPE19 mission and she has integrated well into the Joint Task Force,” Lieutenant Clark said.
“Even though she is an older ship with older combat systems and sensors, she’s very capable with a highly efficient team that delivers complex warfare capability to the task group.”
Newcastle has about 200 personnel embarked, varying in trades, roles and rates. About 60 form the Action Information Organisation, which ranges from boatswain’s mates, communication information system sailors and combat systems operators.
“Being a much smaller ship than Canberra, each person has first and secondary roles – it’s all hands on deck. We are a really tight team,” Lieutenant Clark said.
“It’s been a very busy deployment but also a very productive one. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and it has been a privilege to be part of the ship’s legacy.”
After IPE19, Newcastle will visit her namesake city then decommission in Sydney.