skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Robert McRae - Bundaberg

A former Bundaberg Surf Life Saver and St Luke's Anglican School student is now part of an international counter-terrorism operation in the Middle East.

Sub Lieutenant (SBLT) Robert McRae is deployed on Operation Manitou with HMAS Darwin as an Officer of the Watch.

He is responsible for the safe navigation of the Australian warship as it conducts its maritime security patrols.

Operation Manitou is the Australian Defence Force's contribution to the Combined Maritime Forces, a 31-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

SBLT McRae said he enlisted in the Navy in 2013, after studying for his Bachelor of Business Management, majoring in sports and human resources management.

"I am the first member of my family to join the military and decided upon the Navy because the benefits and training are the best in the world," he said.

"I just completed two-and-a-half years on the Junior Warfare Application Course at HMAS Watson.

"My training included sea-going postings to HMAS Tobruk and Attack 6 with the patrol boats based at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin.

"It is exciting to come straight out of training to deploy on Operation Manitou."

SBLT McRae said part of Darwin's mission with CTF 150 in the Middle East was to restrict the trafficking of illegal narcotics and other contraband in the region.

"We are doing our best to help not just Australia, but the rest of the world," he said.

"With the training we have received we will be successful and get the job done."

Darwin is predominately tasked to support Combined Task Force 150 for maritime security and counter-terrorism operations and Combined Task Force 151 for counter-piracy operations.

CTF 150's area of operations spans more than two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.

From February 23-25 Darwin joined the French Carrier Strike Group Charles de Gaulle to provide escort, force protection support and combined training operations in the Gulf of Oman.

The Charles de Gaulle battlegroup is deployed to the Gulf to participate in operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq as part of US Naval Forces Central Command's Task Force 50.

SBLT McRae said Darwin had an 'awesome' crew.

"Everyone welcomed me to the ship and someone is always there to lend a hand when needed," he said.

"I have been learning new skills from the members of command right down to the junior sailors."

"I have made many good friends in the Navy and it's fantastic to work with people who are like-minded."

During the Australian warship's counter-terrorism mission, she will visit ports such as Manama in Bahrain, Muscat in Oman and Port Victoria in the Seychelles.

Including this rotation, Darwin has deployed to the Middle East seven times between 1990 and 2016 as part of operations Damask, Slipper and Manitou.