HMAS Sydney’s busy program clocked up thousands of nautical miles during 2013; from Hobart to Japan, Christmas Island to Sydney.
Sydney started the year with a visit to Hobart where she was the Flagship for the Australia Day Regatta. Whilst in Hobart, Sydney held an Open Ship in support of the Tasmanian Bushfires Appeal, which raised $4,001, with the Commanding Officer Sydney, Commander Karl Brinckmann presenting a cheque to the Red Cross and Governor of Tasmania.
After a period of routine maintenance at Fleet Base East, Sydney commenced a North East Asian Deployment (NEAD), which would see her deployed for several months and took her to Guam, Japan and Korea.
Engaging with other navies was also a highlight for many of the crew who enjoyed the local customs and hospitality during the alongside periods of the deployment.
"I loved Korea and Japan. The locals made us feel so welcome. It was amazing to see how much respect the Korean Navy had for us during the visit. I'll definitely be back,” said Leading Seaman Tyron Creek.
It was not all port visits and coultural tours, with Sydney hard at work in all ports, undertaking briefings, planning meetings and exercises with ships from other Navies as they prepared for a three-month embed with the United States Navy Seventh Fleet George Washington Carrier Strike Group. The embed was a valuable training opportunity for the Australian Navy, enhancing individual preparations for the in-coming Hobart Class AWD and provided Sydney’s Ship’s Company with an opportunity to reinforce warfare skills, particularly air defence procedures.
During the embed, Sydney was tasked to act as a Horizon Reference Unit (HRU) to George Washington for night flying serials. Commodore Destroyer Squadron 15 (CAPT Paul Lyons USN) then arranged for Sydney to be stationed 1000 yards on the beam of George Washington where Sydney’s crew were able to observe the carrier flight operations.
The ship remained as part of the Carrier Group for Exercise TALISMAN SABER 13, conducting Strike Group integration.
Sydney’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Bannister, Royal Navy was lucky enough to spend two weeks onboard the George Washington as Liaison Officer and says it was a great experience.
“Spending time onboard the Aircraft Carrier George Washington was an incredible experience. As a Royal Navy member on exchange with the Royal Australian Navy, I have been impressed with how impressive Australia is, they always give 110% and get the job done,” said Lieutenant Commander Bannister.
On the conclusion of the embed, Sydney joined International Fleet Review celebrations and was the lead ship for the re-enactment of the Fleet entry, and led the Australian ships in the Combined Navy Parade and the primary pyrotechnics display platform.
While the workload leading into the IFR was intense, the entire crew found the experience rewarding.
“It was amazing. All eyes in Sydney were on the Ship, it gave me goosebumps. There was so much emotion, several of us had tears in our eyes. I’ve never felt so proud,” said Leading Seaman Samantha Quinn.
Although planned to contribute to local exercises and training (plus some respite) in the East Australian Exercise Area, Sydney again demonstrated her flexibility when her program changed and she was deployed to support Operation RESOLUTE, beating Santa back to Fleet Base East by only a matter of days.