New Home, New Life
10 November 2015
An Indian student's love for Australia was the perfect excuse to become a citizen and use his skills for the country he now calls home.
Leading Seaman (LS) Communications and Information Systems Bhupinder Hothi is deployed aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling the Middle East region on Operation Manitou, Australia's contribution to the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
The CMF undertakes security operations in the region, including patrols to intercept the trafficking of drugs that help fund international terrorism.
LS Hothi is part of a team responsible for the warship's telecommunications and information systems.
Originally from the Punjab region of India, LS Hothi came to Australia as a university student in 2005 after already completing his Bachelor Degree in Electronics and Communication, to study for his Master's Degree in Information Technology.
He said he always planned to join the Australian Defence Force and joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2009.
"I was tempted to join as an officer, but I decided to join as a sailor to learn more about the structure of the ADF and the role of junior sailors," LS Hothi said.
"Maybe in the future I will consider a commission, but I am very happy with what I am doing on Melbourne at the moment."
LS Hothi said Operation Manitou was his first deployment to the Middle East and he had previously deployed on border protection duty with Operation Resolute in 2014 with HMAS Sydney.
"I am enjoying this mission and proud to contribute my technical skills as well as my linguistic abilities," he said.
"I have participated in the boarding of some vessels to help translate when the crews speak Hindi and Punjabi, which I also speak.
"The fishing dhow crews are at first a bit shocked to hear me speak their language, but it is good because it helps them communicate with the boarding party and understand what is happening.
"It's fantastic to be helping the team on what is a very important mission stopping drugs and weapons trafficking and restricting funds for terrorism.
"We are helping save a lot of lives."
LS Hothi said he also enjoyed being a member of Melbourne's crew.
"Everyone respects each other and cooperate to work as a team," he said.
"Operation Manitou is a fast-paced operation, but my biggest challenge is missing my wife Ekta and my five-year-old daughter Alisha, but they are proud of the good work we are doing at sea."