One of Katrina Harris' favourite childhood memories is being in a boat out on the water with her family, so it is no surprise the Nelson Bay local was destined to end up in the Navy.
She is now an Able Seaman (AB) Marine Technician and part of HMAS Newcastle's ship's company, with the ship currently deployed on security and stability operations in the the Middle East.
AB Harris works within the Marine Engineering Department to maintain the Adelaide-class frigate's diesel engines, and she is also a member of one of the ship's boarding parties.
"I'm one of four personnel who make up the diesel [engine] team on-board HMAS Newcastle," she said.
"Day-to-day we complete planned maintenance on the ship's four diesel engines, as well as maintaining the two rigid-hull inflatable boats.
"As a part of the ship's boarding team, I'm also on call to board other vessels as required."
Although she has deployed on border protection duries previously, this is AB Harris' first deployment to the Middle East on Operation Manitou.
"I'm enjoying the opportunity to experience new places, in a new part of the world," she said.
"This is the first time I have been part of the ship's boarding party, so I'm enjoying getting out there and getting the job done, so we can all get home to our families safely.
"We have a great crew on board, which makes it easier to be away from our loved ones and the deployment more enjoyable."
When she returns home, AB Harris is looking forward to getting back on the waters of the Myall Lakes for a camping trip.
"The last time I visited home was a week before we left on this deployment," she said.
"When we get back, I'm looking forward to spending Christmas and the rest of the summer with my family and friends, going four-wheel-driving on Stockton Beach, and having a barbeque down at Little Beach.
"Nothing beats it."
HMAS Newcastle returns to her home port at Fleet Base East, Sydney, in December this year.
Operation MANITOU's mission is to contribute to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 31-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.
HMAS Newcastle's deployment marks the 65th rotation of a Navy vessel to the Middle East region since 1990.