Nicholas Krelle has come a long way in life since he left the family home in Culburra Beach to join the Royal Australian Navy.
The Navy has since become a home-away from home for Nicolas.
Nicolas, who has earned the rank of able seaman, is currently preparing to say goodbye to an old friend, the ship he has served on since 2012, HMAS Brunei.
Nicolas has mixed emotions about the upcoming decommissioning of Brunei, which is a landing craft heavy (LCH) vessel.
"I've been in Brunei since 2012, and am proud to be part of the ship's achievements and her decommissioning crew," he said.
"The best part of Brunei is the tight family-like crew that relies on each other to get the job done.
"I will be sad to see the LCHs decommissioned, but proud to have had a chance to serve on them."
In October, Brunei participated in a search to locate the remains of WWII sailor on Guluwuru Island, approximately 650km from Darwin.
The Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Patricia Cam sunk after being bombed by a Japanese float-plane on January 22, 1943, near the Wessel Islands, in the Northern Territory.
Brunei travelled to Guluwuru Island in an attempt to locate the remains of Stoker Percival Cameron, who served in the Particia Cam.
Army specialists and Indigenous cultural monitors travelled to the location after researchers provided information that indicated the remains could reasonably be found.
Unfortunately, the extensive search was unsuccessful.
Having grown up in the NSW South Coast town of Culburra Beach, Nicolas has always enjoyed the coastal lifestyle, especially when he gets a chance to go surfing.
"Whenever I get to go home I look forward to getting some waves, and just hanging with my family and friends from Shoalhaven High and my old soccer team – the Culburra Cougars," said.
"Moving to Sydney means that I will be closer to home."
Nicolas will take up a new posting in Sydney after the ship decommissions this month.
Although the paying off of the LCH ships will mark the end of an important chapter in the Royal Australian Navy’s history, Nicolas is excited about the possibility of one day joining the next generation of Navy’s amphibious capability.
"I'd like to do amphib again," he said.
"The Landing Helicopter Dock ships will be completely different to an LCH, so it would be something completely new," he said.
The RAN’s three remaining Landing Craft Heavy ships (HMA Ships Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan) are to be decommissioned in November 2014.