29-year-old Jude Gregory kicked off his working career at a fast food outlet in Bribie Island. Now a Leading Seaman in the Royal Australian Navy, Jude is responsible for running the galley of the Australian warship HMAS Newcastle – which turns out 720 hot meals a day.
Newcastle is currently conducting counter piracy, counter narcotics and counter terrorism duties in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) as part of Operation SLIPPER. The Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG)is deployed to the MEAO for six months, and good food is essential for maintaining morale amongst the ship’s company for that period of time.
Over the course of the deployment, Jude and his team of six chefs will cook more than 120 960 meals, which need to be delicious and nutritious to satisfy Newcastle’s hungry crew of 230 men and women.
“We find out very quickly if the crew are unhappy with our performance. The challenge is producing the best quality food that we can, with the limited resources we have available,” Jude said.
There’s more to Jude’s job than just cooking and inspiring his junior Chefs.
“Aside from leading the other Chefs, I have to order provisions to make sure we have enough victuals onboard to sustain the crew at sea,” said Jude.
“Here in the MEAO, orders for stores are required four weeks in advance and maritime patrols can last several weeks. So, it takes precise planning to get it right,” he said.
Newcastleis due to return to Australia in October, after handing over Operation SLIPPER duties to HMAS Melbourne.
“I’m really looking forward to getting home and eating my wife’s home cooking, and it will be my turn to look after the kids for a while to give her a bit of a break,” Jude said.
“And then I’m off to the Bribie Island RSL to catch up with friends,” he said.
For his service in the MEAO, LS Gregory has earned the Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) and the Afghanistan campaign medal.
Operation SLIPPER is the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.
Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.