Medowie's Paul Montgomery has been awarded a defence industry service commendation for his work on deep-water surveillance projects.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price presented Mr Montgomery with a medal in Newcastle on Tuesday.
"I welled up. It's good to be recognised by the defence industry and your peers," Mr Montgomery said.
Mr Montgomery worked in Newcastle for Australian Defence Industries [ADI], which later became Thales, on the $1 billion Minehunter ship project.
Six of these ships were built in Newcastle in the 1990s.
"I went through the whole electrical design and build stages and then became the sea trials technical officer."
His job involved conducting daily sea trials. He would start the ships and check their systems, which included electrical, sonar, radar, launch and combat.
"Every system on the ship had to run through sea-acceptance testing. Many documents had to be signed off to prove the ship did what it was supposed to do," he said.
He now works at BlueZone Group at Thornton on mine disposal vehicles and remotely operated vehicles for the military.