Thursday, January 27, 2011


Just before New Year’s Eve, local girl Amanda ‘Hutchy’ Hutchinson said farewell to her partner Rachael, her two step-daughters Tiffany and Crystal, her mum and dad and both her grandmothers.

But it was no ordinary goodbye. The former Pegasus player was heading off for a six-month maritime security patrol in the Gulf of Aden.
She and her 190 shipmates aboard HMAS Stuart will be home in the middle of this year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
“After Kurnai College I started as a cleaner in the Autistic Centre, worked on a farm, and ended up in a Telstra call centre,” said Amanda.
Amanda’s brother John now plays soccer for the Central Coast A League, and Amanda herself was no slouch in Morwell Pegasus, but she was looking for something more in life.
“My partner Rachael is ex-Navy, and was also the Commanding Officer of the Navy cadets — it was Rachael who encouraged me to give the Navy a go full-time and without her support I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“I’ve now been promoted to Able Seaman and deployed overseas twice — to Hawaii in 2008 and then to SE Asia including China in 2009, but this trip is much longer and further away.
“It will earn me my Australian Active Service Medal — my first serious medal since the medal for four years’ service.
Amanda has specialised as a communicator — covering everything from signal flags and morse code to satellite communications and managing the ship’s internet service.
“These days’ e-mails home are so good for crew morale,” said Amanda, “But a big part of the job is staying in touch with other ships by radio, letting them know about boarding parties and so on.”
But that’s not all. When the ship enters or leaves harbour, Amanda’s other job is to stand in the bows wearing combat body armour and a rifle in order to provide added security.
“It’s so we can provide an instant response if attacked,” said Amanda. “But hopefully it will stop people having a go in the first place.”
“When I’m home it will definitely be time to treat ourselves. We’re already planning a big European holiday, catching up with family connections in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy and Malta.”
Able Seaman Amanda Hutchinson in pic
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