Members of the Royal Australian Navy working in unique roles at Sydney International Airport and hotels to assist returning overseas passengers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been thanked personally by Commander Shore Force Captain Stephen Bowater.

Captain Bowater also spoke to a group of Navy members who had just concluded 37 days working on Operation COVID-19 Assist.

“You all have been helping keep Australia safe, and I know it can be a tough gig,” he told the group, encouraging them to share their stories about this unusual but crucial service to the nation.

Three members were awarded Commander Navy Shore Force commendations: Seaman Maritime Logistics-Steward Jack McArtney, of HMAS Watson; Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Carlie Briggs and Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics-Supply Chain Ayla Peacock, both of NUSHIP Supply.

“I applaud these members for their devotion to duty and to Navy core values while performing these jobs,” Captain Bowater said.

At Sydney International Airport, Able Seaman Daniel Sawaqed told Captain Bowater that it was rewarding to support tired families as they arrived after long overseas flights.

“Everyone has been very appreciative towards us,” he said.

“I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t tried to thank me in one way or another as we load their bags and escort them to the bus.”

Earlier this month, Captain Bowater also visited Navy members at Sydney hotels, where passengers were being taken for quarantine.

He said the Navy had, along with other Australian Defence Force members, been in the public eye as representatives during the operation.

“Shouldering this work in support of government has proven Navy capability and I have been proud to see the professionalism and positive attitudes of our sailors and officers as they uphold our reputation," he said.

“We continue to stand ready to support Australia in this situation.”