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Shayne Firth - Cairns

CAIRNS resident Shayne Firth is doing his bit in the ongoing fight to stop illegal drugs funding terrorism and reaching Australian shores.

Petty Officer (PO) Firth, a Marine Logistics - Personnel specialist, is a member of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) deployed to Bahrain in the Middle East region for Operation MANITOU.

CTF 150 responsible for maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements and is one of several task forces that fall under the command of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces, which undertakes a range of maritime security operations in the region.

As a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) administrator for CTF 150, PO Firth said his responsibilities included personnel management, pay and administration and providing advice on the conditions of service entitlements for the deployed Australian personnel.

"It feels good to be doing my job here in the Middle East as CTF 150 makes a difference with their contribution to the multinational forces fighting terrorism," he said.

"It is great to be part of an organisation denying funds to terrorists by stopping their illegal maritime activities and keeping the illegal narcotics off our streets.

"We're a team trying to make the world a better place for us all to live in."

PO Firth said he joined the Navy in 1995, at 18 years old and has sailed on HMA Ships Hobart, Leeuwin and Melville and Tobruk.

"I transferred to the Navy Reserve after 12 years to work aboard the Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour," he said.

"It was an excellent opportunity to work in the field of youth development, which was a job I embraced.

"After my time with Young Endeavour I joined the Defence Indigenous Development Program to continue working with young Australians.

"I also dabbled in public relations and politics before I found myself back in the Navy full-time taking on the challenge of decommissioning Tobruk.

"Then, just before my contract concluded, I was offered the position with CTF 150."

CTF 150 promotes security and stability in a maritime operations area that spans more than two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, the North Arabian Sea and Western Indian Ocean.

The Task Force is mandated to deter and deny terrorist organisations the ability to conduct maritime attacks against partnership forces or merchant vessels.

This includes preventing smugglers from using the seas to move illicit goods such as narcotics, weapons and even charcoal, all of which are used to fund terrorist activities.

PO Firth said the facilities provided for his deployment with the multinational force at the Naval Support Activity base were of the highest order.

"We have a gymnasium, a bowling alley, a sports field and shops," he said.

"There is also the more serious side of the resources and technology we have available to do our mission.

"Sadly, this is the first Christmas I will be away from my wife Sharon, my daughter Rhiannon and my son Lachlan.

"I can speak to them daily on the internet, but it's not the same as being there and waking up to children jumping on me in the morning screaming that Santa has visited."