A Cairns-based patrol boat skipper and his crew will be missing Christmas at home this year as they remain at sea in northern Australian waters for border protection operations.
Commanding officer of Ardent III, Lieutenant Commander Michael Miller said he will be missing Christmas with his two little girls and understanding wife, Jeanette in Cairns while at work for the festive season.
Instead of Christmas lunch with his wife and daughters, Lieutenant Commander Miller will be sharing lunch onboard, including ham, turkey, seafood and pudding, with his Navy family – up to 24 members of his ship’s company.
Lieutenant Commander Miller joined the Navy in 1987 from Canberra where his parents still reside and after 20 years of service he transferred to Reserves to try something new, while still keeping ties with Navy.
A short time away allowed Lieutenant Commander Miller to reflect on the security offered by Navy, prompting his decision to undertake full-time Reserve work before returning to the permanent Navy.
“I realised I missed the Navy life and still had ambitions I wanted to achieve, so I rejoined the permanent Navy. Soon after, I was posted to Ardent III as the commanding officer,” Lieutenant Commander Miller said.
Lieutenant Commander Miller acknowledges the experiences and successes he enjoys in his career would not be possible without the love and support of his wife, Jeanette and daughters Gracie and Hannah.
“I believe they have the hardest burden to bear during this posting, effectively being a single parent family trying to maintain family life and routines and me popping back every eight weeks.”
Armidale Class Patrol Boats have a compliment of 25 officers and sailors. The last two years have seen the Ardent III crew under Lieutenant Commander Miller’s command and he proudly reflects on their professional approach.
“I could not be any prouder of the young men and women I have had the privilege of serving with. They have consistently met every challenge put to them this year and have come through successfully, safely and with good humour and grace.
“We’ve worked with the Indonesian Navy during a joint exercise, conducted a follow-on coordinated border protection patrol targeting breaches of Australian and Indonesian fisheries laws, as well as met the increased tempo of border protection operations.
“It’s hard to be away from family during significant occasions, like birthdays and Christmas, but it’s made easier when spending it with quality people like those of my crew.”
On Christmas Day, Lieutenant Commander Miller will be thinking of his family back in Cairns and Canberra and looking forward to his family holiday before relocating to Canberra in the New Year.