Leading Seaman Combat Specialist Cory Bell is on an 11-month exchange on Australian frigate HMAS Newcastle, which is conducting maritime security operations in the Middle East. Photo credit: Royal Australian Navy
25 September 2017
A Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) sailor is revelling in an 11-month exchange on an Australian frigate to help counter piracy and terrorism in some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
“I’m pretty lucky to have this opportunity to test my skills here in the Middle East,” said Leading Seaman Combat Specialist Cory Bell, who is a boat coxswain on HMAS Newcastle.
“It is not at all what I imagined I would be doing when I enlisted in the Navy almost nine years ago. But I was eager to get the chance to come to the Middle East, contribute to the work here and see a different part of the world that we hear so much about in the news.”
HMAS Newcastle is currently conducting maritime security operations in the Middle East in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 31-nation naval partnership that includes New Zealand and Australia.
The CMF seeks to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy and promote a safe maritime environment across about 8.2 million square kilometres of international water in the Middle East.
It announced recently that it had established a Maritime Security Transit Corridor to help secure merchant ships transiting through the Gulf of Aden, Bab Al Mandeb and the Southern Red Sea. It said the move was prompted by the continued threats of piracy and attacks by small, high-speed boats using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives.
Since he was posted to HMAS Newcastle in November 2016, LSCS Bell has visited the ship’s home port in Sydney and has been to India, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
“Visiting the city of Petra, in southern Jordan, having seen it in the Indiana Jones movie, was an unforgettable experience. So was the chance to swim and float in the Dead Sea and to dive in the Red Sea,” he said.
Leading Seaman Combat Specialist Bell joined the RNZN in January 2009, after graduating from Westlake Boys High School in Auckland. His paternal grandfather had served in the RNZN and told him stories about his deployments overseas and the countries he had been to.
He has deployed previously on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions to Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Christchurch, and joined an operation in the Solomon Islands to dispose safely of unexploded ordnance from the Second World War.
He also took part in fisheries patrols in the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean on Offshore Patrol Vessels HMNZS Wellington and Otago, and helped rescue Philippine sailors on merchant ship Rena that ran aground on Astrolabe Reef in Tauranga in 2011.