Forging the ANZAC spirit

Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS Paul McCallum (photographer)

Executive Officer HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Commander Geoff McGinley, RAN looks over a chart of the Gallipoli Peninsular and the records of service of a fallen ANZAC on the bridge of HMAS Anzac. (photo: LSIS Paul McCallum)
Executive Officer HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Commander Geoff McGinley, RAN looks over a chart of the Gallipoli Peninsular and the records of service of a fallen ANZAC on the bridge of HMAS Anzac.

The Royal Australian Navy helicopter frigate HMAS Anzac recently completed working up its whole ship skills in preparation for NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015, a global deployment that will see it represent Australia at the Centenary of Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli in April.

In contrast to the Dardanelles campaign of 1915, Anzac’s role 100 years on is a peacetime one, but the ship must still be ‘ready for anything’ as it deploys far from home over a six month period.

All Royal Australian Navy ships must hone their war-fighting and mariner skills prior to deploying and be prepared to perform duties across the entire span of maritime operations. 

Diplomatic, constabulary, humanitarian relief and ceremonial duties are just some of those routinely undertaken  during the course of any overseas deployment. 

Mr John Perryman, the Senior Naval Historian at the Sea Power Centre – Australia has studied how the training, technology and procedures that underpin these roles and duties today have evolved significantly from the times of our forbears.

“The Royal Australian Navy of today is a far-cry from that of World War One. 

Executive Officer HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Commander Geoff McGinley, looks over a chart of the Gallipoli Peninsula, and records of service of fallen ANZACs, while on the bridge of HMAS Anzac.

Executive Officer HMAS Anzac, Lieutenant Commander Geoff McGinley, looks over a chart of the Gallipoli Peninsula, and records of service of fallen ANZACs, while on the bridge of HMAS Anzac.

“What needs to be remembered is that much of the Australian Navy's experience came from the Royal Navy and work-ups in those days were confined to gunnery shoots, torpedo firings, seamanship drills, signalling and steam tactics (officer of the watch manoeuvres).

“In those days damage control was a matter of fighting fires and stemming flooding. 

“Today things are a little more complex with the additional threat of nuclear and biological weapons,” Mr Perryman said.

Anzac’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Geoff McGinley, himself a keen student of military history, believes that developing and honing a full range of skills has always been the hallmark of an effective military force reflecting that the ANZAC legend is an enduring part of the Australian spirit, and the legend tells of the almost superhuman quality of the original Anzacs.

“In reality the original Anzacs earned their reputation as a result of a level of training and long, hard preparation, not as a result of some innate superiority.

Anzac’s crew worked hard to ensure that our training and procedures have prepared us for our deployment, in which we will represent the Australian people at the Centenary of Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli, and at a range of international engagements,” Lieutenant Commander McGinley said.

The workup program that Australian Navy ships undertake in the modern era is by necessity a complete test of a warship’s capabilities providing all with a sense of confidence that ship is in all respects ready.

“With the benefit of hard learnt lessons over many decades, work-ups are now an essential part of making a warship combat ready. 

“They are well planned and encompass a much broader field of training, exercises and drills.

“In the 21st century there is the multi-threat environment to consider (sub-surface, surface, air, space, cyber), myriad weapons systems to master, including missiles, torpedos, guns and much more advanced communications and operational technology,” Mr Perryman said.

HMAS Anzac is currently deployed on NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 during which it will participate in the Centenary of Anzac commemorations in April, followed by a series of important international engagements.