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Rob Bateman - Chinchilla

Cooking at sea for a crew of nearly 230 is just a part of the adventure for a sailor on counter-terrorism operations with HMAS Darwin.

Petty Officer (PO) Marine Logistics – Chef Rob Bateman is the senior caterer on the Australian warship while it is deployed to the Middle East on Operation Manitou.

Operation Manitou is the ADF's contribution to support international efforts in promoting maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region.

Darwin's primary goal is to contribute to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 31-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

PO Bateman said his main roles were to ensure the ship was well-stocked for its long patrols and his galley staff kept the crew happy with delicious, healthy meals.

"The secret to being a great cook aboard a warship is to maintain high energy, be passionate about the job, smile and laugh a lot," he said.

"We try to cater for everyone and keep each person happy, but there are many preferences, tastes and expectations.

"Our aim in Darwin's galley is to consistently produce a variety of high-quality nutritious food."

Darwin is predominately tasked to support Combined Task Force 150 for maritime security and counter-terrorism operations and Combined Task Force 151 for counter-piracy operations.

Darwin will spend close to six months focusing on enhancing maritime security in the Middle East Region.

PO Bateman said Operation Manitou was an important mission with a huge responsibility for the ship's crew.

"It also demonstrates Australia's ongoing commitment to CMF," he said.

"It's not just about the importance of stopping the illegal drugs or other contraband, it's also about stopping the funding of terrorism."

CTF 150's area of operations spans more than two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.

PO Bateman said he joined the Navy in 2001 after growing up and going to school in the country areas of south-east Queensland on cattle and grain properties near Dalby and Chinchilla.

"I always wanted to get away – we did it pretty tough during the droughts," he said.

"The original plan wasn't to be a cook, but after some work experience in the galley I decided it was the trade I wanted."

PO Bateman worked on HMAS Tobruk for a South East Asia tour then transferred to HMAS Newcastle for five years and deployed to the Gulf on Operation Slipper in 2005 and Operation Quickstep near Fiji in 2006.

He has also been involved in border protection on Operations Relex and Resolute and worked with the patrol boats out of HMAS Cairns.

PO Bateman said before his posting to Darwin he was an instructor at the School of Catering at HMAS Cerberus for three years.

"The posting to the school was one of the most memorable times of my Navy career," he said.

"In 2013 I was selected as the Navy's Out of Category Instructor of the Year.

"It felt like a massive pat on the back."

PO Bateman said although it was a long time to be away from his family, his wife Corrie was a former sailor and understood the Navy lifestyle.

"It's tough on her and my daughter Lily (7) and my son Darcy (5) and she has a lot on with her own career of nursing, but she balances it all perfectly," he said.

"She also knows we are actually working out here, not just having a party."