Murwillumbah sailor fights drugs and terrorism
A MURWILLUMBAH sailor has joined the fight against illicit drugs onboard an Australian warship conducting counter-terrorism patrols in the Middle East.
Former Mount St Patrick College student and Mustangs Rugby League player, Able Seaman (AB) Combat Systems Operator Simon Taylor, is deployed on HMAS Darwin on Operation Manitou.
Operation Manitou is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to support international efforts in promoting maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.
The main goal of Operation Manitou is to contribute to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces, a 31-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.
AB Taylor said Operation Manitou’s mission was essential for Australia's security interests.
“Darwin will be at sea for a long time in the region, but our goal is to stem the funds from the sale of illicit drugs and other goods going to terrorist organisations,” he said.
“I’ve waited a long time for the opportunity to deploy to the Middle East so I’m very excited to be involved.
“I know the work we do is only a piece of the puzzle, but every bit counts.”
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.
\Darwin will spend much of her six-month deployment focusing on disrupting smuggling efforts in areas such as the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia.
AB Taylor followed in his father’s footsteps to join the Navy in 2009 and said he wanted to broaden his horizons.
“My dad, Mark Taylor, was a petty officer cook and served mainly on the old guided missile destroyers such as HMAS Hobart,” he said.
“I also wanted to travel.”
And since joining the Navy, AB Taylor has certainly travelled.
While posted to HMAS Sydney he visited south-east Asia, the Philippines and Japan and spent time in the northern Australian waters during border protection patrols as part of Operation Resolute.
On transit to the Middle East on his current ship he visited Thailand, Indonesia and then India to join the International Fleet Review hosted by Indian Navy.
AB Taylor said his main role aboard Darwin was to track aircraft and surface vessels.
“My job is to create a tactical picture and provide situational awareness for the warship’s command team,” he said.
“When I’m not in the operations room I can be found doing my ancillary tasks, such as a ship’s diver, procedural aircraft controller, military fitness leader or boat coxswain.”
He said his main challenge while at sea was being disconnected from home.
“I miss not being able to pick up the paper and read the news,” AB Taylor said.
“The best thing about Navy is the mateship.
“I’m lucky to serve with friends I enlisted with, but I try to get home to catch up with my old school friends and family as much as I can.”
Including this rotation, Darwin has deployed to the Middle East seven times between 1990 and 2016 as part of operations Damask, Slipper and Manitou.