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www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS October 10, 2013
LEUT Kathryn Moncrief
WHILE patrolling the Red Sea,
HMAS Newcastle was surprised
to find an unexpected sea rider on
A small brown owl had taken
residence in the starboard hangar
and proved to be quite a hit with the
While exercising, one crew mem-
ber noticed what they thought was an
owl statue, when to much surprise it
rotated its head and blinked.
"I put my towel and drink bot-
tle down and when I was finished I
picked up my towel to find the owl
was hiding underneath," LSCSO Tim
The owl had taken an overwatch
position near the accommodation
module. Personnel thought command
had taken the living arrangements a
step too far by installing a real hoot-
ing owl to lull them to sleep.
The owl, known by a number of
names including Mo and Hoot, took
it upon himself to conduct a ship's
tour and was last seen sitting on the
forecastle inspecting the vertical
LCDR Luke Miller, an avid bird
watcher and photographer, was thrilled
to have the opportunity to indulge in
his pastime so far out at sea.
"As soon as I heard we had an
interesting visitor, I grabbed my
camera and rushed to the hangar to
capture the rare sight," he said.
"I did some quick research and it
seems the little brown owl may be a
Desert Eagle Owl or Pharaoh Owl,
which originates from Egypt."
Sea rider's visit a hoot
LEUT Timothy Craig, one of
Newcastle's maritime aviation
observers or 'birdies' was disap-
pointed he didn't get the chance to
improve inter-maritime aviation liai-
son with the Middle Eastern visitor.
"I heard people talking about
the owl but when I went over to the
starboard hangar it had gone. I was
pretty disappointed," he said.
As the ship made her way towards
the Arabian coast, the owl was seen
ascending into the heavens.
STOW AWAY: HMAS Newcastle's
newest crew member, SMN Hoot.
Photo: POEW Ben White
GET INVOLVED: ABML-S John Baguio and ABML-S
Alexandra Thomson ready to man the hose line (above)
while ABBM Shane Cording marks Fort Victoria's
refuelling hose with an International Fleet Review
Photos: POEW Ben White
LEUT David Osborne
AT THE end of her third Middle
Eastern patrol, HMAS Newcastle vis-
ited the Jordanian port of Aqaba for a
five-day respite visit.
The stop also included official inter-
national engagements and training activ-
ities with the Royal Jordanian Naval
The visit enabled Newcastle's ship's
company to visit spectacular local des-
tinations such as the Dead Sea, the
ancient city of Petra and some of the
world's best dive sites.
Visiting Petra, a site that has featured
in many Hollywood films, was an awe-
inspiring experience for the crew. The
city formed an important junction for
the silk, spice and other trade routes that
linked ancient civilisations and is full of
incredible feats of architecture.
"Petra was amazing," ABBM Troy
"It is such a unique and ancient city,
and it is hard to imagine life back when
this place was thriving. I also rode a
camel down the main street, much like
the locals would have done all those
ABBM Lachlan Holliday also hired
a camel and took it for a ride into the
city centre of Aqaba.
"What a crazy adventure," he said.
"Where else in the world could you
get a camel and take it through a city?"
Those that ventured as far as the
Dead Sea were not disappointed.
The Dead Sea is a salt lake border-
ing Jordan to the east and Israel and
Palestine to the west. Its surface and
shores are 423m below sea level, Earth's
lowest elevation on land. With 33.7 per
cent salinity, it is also one of the world's
saltiest bodies of water.
"The experience of weightlessness
while floating in the water was amaz-
ing," LSET Mike Knezevic said.
"It was almost like it was impossible
to sink. You are warned not to put your
head under the water because the water
stings your eyes and tastes horrible, but
it felt good on my skin."
Newcastle's unofficial social 'dive
club' enjoyed the crystal clear warm
waters of the Red Sea.
The highlight was the Cedar Pride,
an 80m cargo ship wreck dive in about
24m of water, with 30m-plus visibility.
"The diving here is amazing," CPO
Graeme Cruickshank said.
"This was one of the best dives I have
ever been able to do. We have dived in
the Seychelles and Bahrain on this trip,
but Aqaba has been my favourite."
At an official reception on board
Newcastle, guests were able to taste
Australian dishes, including kangaroo
and emu. The event proved a learning
experience for LEUT Alisha Withers.
"The function was a wonderful
opportunity to mingle with Jordanian
representatives and allowed me to
broaden my understanding of trade con-
nections between Jordan and Australia,"
LEUT Withers said.
"For instance, Australian short grain
white rice is one of our biggest exports
On sailing, Newcastle was accom-
panied by two Royal Jordanian Naval
Force patrol vessels and conducted a
two-hour passage exercise before
resuming her patrols as part of the
Combined Maritime Force.
FEET UP: LSET Mike
Knezevic relaxes in the
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