Australian Navy ships and personnel were on duty across the region and the globe this festive season, no different to every other day of the year.
Able Seaman Electronics Technician Ned Orchard, of Sanctuary Point, NSW, was at sea protecting Australia’s borders as part of Operation RESOLUTE.
Able Seaman Orchard grew up on the NSW South Coast, attended Vincentia High and played AFL for the Bay and Basin Bombers and reserve grade AFL for the Albatross Demons. He now serves on board Mine Hunter Coastal, HMAS Huon.
Operation RESOLUTE is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the whole-of-government effort to protect Australia’s national security interests in the maritime domain and as part of that duty HMASHuon has been busy patrolling northern waters.
“Recently, I’ve been recovering illegal long lines. We rescued some sharks trapped in five abandoned longlines. There were some rather large sharks that were still alive, which was pretty incredible,” Able Seaman Orchard said.
The long lines were believed to be from foreign fishing boats suspected of fishing north of Australian waters and had drifted into the Australian Fishing Zone. Each line was about 400m in length with up to 25 hooks.
Personnel from Huon recovered all five longlines and cut free two 1 to 1.5 metre tiger sharks and one 3 metre oceanic whaler shark.
“We also recovered a 1,500kg ghost net,” he said.
Navy works together with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Customs and Border Protection to combat illegal foreign fishing in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
“Day to day, my job involves maintaining the pneumatics and hydraulics systems. I’m also an active member of the boarding party and maintain the ship’s weapons.
“Being away from my mates and family at Christmas was a little tough, but I’m part of a great team. When I get some time off, I’m looking forward to getting home to see my two Dalmatian puppies Ruby and Cooper. I’ll also catch up with my family and friends and hit the surf and dive at Caves Beach.
“It’ll also be great to visit my old stomping ground. Before I joined the Navy, I worked at the dive store in Huskisson and a seafood shop in Vincentia.”
Since joining the Navy, Able Seaman Orchard has mostly worked in Armidale Class Patrol Boats, which have been primarily deployed on Operation RESOLUTE patrols.
He has received the Australian Defence Medal, Operational Service Medal and shared in a group commendation for a search and rescue operation.