Bundaberg’s Daphne Schneider will miss Christmas at home and also her Shalom College 10-year high-school reunion because she is off with the Royal Australian Navy chasing pirates around the Horn of Africa.
Daphne is a sailor serving aboard the guided missile frigate, HMAS Melbourne, which has deployed for six months to the Middle East as part of the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international campaign against terrorism.
Fortunately, Daphne, 27, can still manage a smile about answering the call of duty at the expense of the festive season with family in Bundaberg.
This Christmas will be the first for Daphne away from home and her daughter, Mercedes.
“The Christmas period is always a lot of fun, with food and family around our house,” she said.
“Mum normally spends the night before Christmas cooking frantically, and we try to combine Aussie food with traditional Filipino food including a pig-on-a-spit.”
Daphne said the rest of the holidays are spent fishing and crabbing with her dad, as well as days just lying in the sun at the beach.
“It’s hard for all of us to be away at Christmas time, but I feel proud to be doing my part in preserving maritime security for the region and protecting the international maritime community,” she said.
As a Leading Seaman communications and information systems sailor, Daphne is responsible for the day-to-day operation of equipment used for ship to ship, or ship to shore establishment communications.
She is also responsible for supporting Melbourne’s command and operations room with any information technology requirements and keeping the ship’s internet services maintained for a crew of more than 230 officers and sailors.
“The internet is our best means of contact with family and friends and it’s especially important for morale during a long deployment like this one over the Christmas and New Year period,” she said.
Daphne made the decision to join the Navy in 2009 after talking to her father.
“I had studied international tourism at Central Queensland University and was working at Big W when my father said ‘why don’t you join the Navy and travel the world?” she said.
“So that is exactly what I did.”
Almost six years on and Daphne is now Melbourne’s communications centre supervisor.
Fortunately, Daphne will be home in March next year, to tell her family and friends about her many adventures chasing pirates around the Horn of Africa.
“When I get back home I’m looking forward spending lots of time with my eight-year-old daughter, Mercedes,” she said.
“I want to do all the things I normally take for granted, like taking Mercedes to school, or swimming lessons, or going to the park or even just a doctor’s appointment.”
Melbourne commenced maritime security operations in the Middle East on September 24, 2013, including support to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) for the conduct of maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and the waters around the Horn of Africa.CMF provides coordination to a 29-nation maritime force in order to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, and encourage regional cooperation and ongoing maritime security.