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David Small - Wamuran

Able Seaman David Small is a long way from the small banana farm he grew up on in Wamuran, QLD.

After three years of service in the RAN he has been deployed to the Middle East region in HMAS Arunta.

ABCSO Small deployed in November 2016 as part of a 191 member crew bound for Operation MANITOU - Australia's contribution to counter terrorism, counter piracy and narcotics interdiction which contributes to stability in the Middle East region.

Joining as a Combat Systems Operator, ABCSO Small works in the fast paced environment of the operations room and specialises in above water warfare.

He is trained to operate advanced radar systems and uses these systems to develop a clear maritime and air surveillance picture in order for command to make tactical decisions and conduct anti ship missile defence.

This is the first time ABCSO Small has deployed operationally onboard a RAN ship, which he says is exciting.

"The Navy was a big change for me. I grew up riding dirt bikes and working on my family's banana farm," ABCSO Small said.

"I worked as a qualified painter for a little while but, after visiting a ship during an open day, I knew the Navy would hold some exciting prospects for me.

"s part of my day to day role I compile information from multiple sources to ensure that the combat system has the most updated tactical picture.

"Developing the tactical picture is a team effort where everyone is required to be vigilant and make regular assessments to identify potential contacts and react to any potential threats.

ABCSO Small said in addition to his role in the operations room, he is also a member of the ship's boarding team.

"During boarding operations I board and secure suspicious vessels as quickly as possible and carry out searches for illicit cargo which are potentially being smuggled to support terrorism," he said.

"Boarding a vessel is a real adrenaline rush and I'm really looking forward to doing my job in an operational environment."

ABCSO Small is enjoying the experience of his deployment and looking forward to the opportunities that lay ahead.

"I joined the Navy to do this type of thing; it was always a goal of mine to serve on an operational deployment," he said.

"It has taken three years, but I am finally here and doing the job I signed up to do - It's a real accomplishment.”

While nine-months away from home will be hard, ABCSO Small said his family is proud and only ever an email away.

"We have lots of communication methods available to us such as email, wifi and the ability to call home," he said.

"All of this helps make life away from home easier," he said.

HMAS Arunta deployed in November 2016, from Garden Island, Rockingham, Western Australia. Arunta is the 64th Australian Navy ship to be deployed to the region since 1990.