Navy chef Adam Witsen wants nothing more than to be with his family on Anzac Day.
The 36-year-old is currently deployed in Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Launceston conducting civil maritime security operations in Australia’s remote northern waters.
But the hard-working father of four remains optimistic.
“If I am needed for Operation Resolute on Anzac Day, Christmas Day or any other day, then I’ll be there,” the Able Seaman Maritime Logistics-Cook said.
“This is my job, and sometimes sacrifices have to be made, but it’s all worth it if I can put a smile on my shipmates’ faces at mealtimes.”
AB Witsen is part of the 21-member crew of Ardent One based at HMAS Cairns in Queensland. This Anzac Day up to seven patrol boat crews will deploy from Cairns and Darwin to conduct maritime security patrols as part of the Joint Task Force 639.
Together they will join RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and personnel at the Headquarters Northern Command in Darwin working around the clock to provide the necessary surveillance and response to counter eight distinct maritime threats.
These threats include: illegal activity in protected areas; illegal exploitation of natural resources; marine pollution; prohibited imports and exports; unauthorised maritime arrivals; compromise to bio-security; piracy, robbery or violence at sea; and maritime terrorism.
AB Witsen said his normal Anzac Day routine would be a traditional lunch with his wife Romana and their four children.
“I get dressed up in my ceremonial uniform, join the march, and then take the family to the local RSL for a meal.”
AB Witsen, known as “Scoobs” to his mates, grew up in Albury and Brisbane.
He joined the Navy as a qualified entry cook, having learned his trade at the Mercure Hotel in Townsville and at the local Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE.
After recruit training, his first deployment was six months embarked in Anzac- class frigate HMAS Ballarat as the ship circumnavigated the globe as part of Exercise Northern Trident 09.
That was followed by a six-month deployment to the Middle East as part of Operation Slipper, conducting counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations in the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden and the waters around the Horn of Africa.
AB Witsen is currently on his fourth Op Resolute deployment, each of which has lasted two to three months.
He said it could be tough at times, being apart from his his children Jeremy, Jack, Angela and Kate, who range in age from eight to 15.
“I’m looking forward to getting home and helping the family settle in to our new house in Cairns,” AB Witsen said.
“We’ve only just moved there after relocating from Sydney in February.”
Meanwhile, the family is ready to welcome him back.
“We all love his cooking, even if he does use us as guinea pigs sometimes,” wife Romana laughed.
“I think he tests out his new dishes on us before serving them up to his shipmates.”