This year Bethania’s Stephanie Ellis will be with the Royal Australian Navy hunting pirates instead of at home in Bethania opening Christmas presents with her family.
Stephanie is a sailor serving with HMAS Melbourne in the Middle East Area of Operations, conducting anti-piracy patrols, which means she will spend her first Christmas away from home.
The Leading Seaman said despite the excitement of the deployment, it will be difficult to be away from her loved ones at such a special time.
“This Christmas, I just want my family to know that I miss them and I love them,” she said.
“I’m really going to miss Christmas because we always eat lots of food, play bocce on the lawn and laugh a lot.”
With her enthusiasm, small stature and a beaming smile you would be forgiven for thinking Stephanie had just started a gap year out of high school.
The fact is Stephanie is in her sixth year serving in the Navy.
Stephanie has travelled the world with Navy and just recently she played a part in intercepting nine suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, serving in the guided missile frigate Melbourne.
In October, Stephanie was a member of Melbourne’s boat recovery team who embarked nine Somali nationals suspected of attempted acts of piracy against two separate merchant vessels.
She said she felt very proud to be part of such a successful operation.
“It was a good feeling, to be putting our training into practice in a real life scenario,” she said.
“And when we finished our work, we knew that by doing our job well, we had protected several international merchant ships and ensured the safety of their crew”.
Melbourne also conducts operations in support to the headquarters for Combined Maritime Forces in Bahrain including counter-piracy and counter smuggling operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali basin.
Fortunately Stephanie is no stranger to spending time at sea. She has sailed all around Australia, to Samoa, Hawaii and San Diego and now the Middle East.
As a Maritime Logistics – Supply Chain sailor Stephanie is responsible for the requisitioning, demanding, purchasing, receipt, storage, issue, return and stock control of stores items required by the ship
“I’m part of the team that keeps the ship afloat with a constant supply of goods from paper towelling to high tech weaponry,” she said.
“I’m also a member of the Special Sea Duty party and perform in a number of vital seamanship evolutions at sea.”
Stephanie will return home in March 2014 and is looking forward to seeing her family, when they will celebrate her home-coming with a late Christmas.
“I’m also looking forward to being a god-mother for the third time to my cousin’s baby boy!”