Christmas this year will be a little different for Able Seaman Electronics Technician Ned Orchard, of Sanctuary Point, NSW, who will be at sea, protecting Australia's borders as part of Operation Resolute.
Ned, who attended Vincentia High and played AFL for the Bay and Basin Bombers and reserve grade AFL for the Albatross Demons, is serving on board Mine Hunter Coastal HMAS Huon.
Operation Resolute is the Australian Defence Force contribution to the whole-of-government effort to protect Australia's national security interests in the maritime domain.
HMAS Huon has been busy patrolling northern waters.
"During our current patrol, I've been recovering illegal long lines from Australian waters. We rescued some sharks trapped in five abandoned longlines. There were some rather large sharks that were still alive, which was pretty incredible," Ned 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 1-1.5m tiger sharks and one 3m oceanic whaler shark.
"We also recovered a 1500kg ghost net," Ned 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.
"Leading Seaman Brooke Callaghan (lower left and fellow HMAS Huon sailors gather by confiscated illegal longline fishing cables and floats that were retrieved from the sea near Ashmore Island by Navy and Australian Fisheries Management Authority personnel."
"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," Ned said.
"Being away from my mates and family at Christmas will be 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, Ned has mostly worked on 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.