This has been an exceptionally important and busy year in our history, and I believe there has never been a more exciting time to serve in Navy.
Our achievements in 2015 have demonstrated that we are on track to meet the targets that will build the future Navy. This is what Plan Pelorus is all about.
We have decommissioned HMA Ships Sydney and Tobruk. Over their long lives they were stalwarts of the Navy and made great operational contributions. Sydney's final service was as a harbour training ship, a key tenet of Plan Pelorus clearly on display, before attending the Pacific 15 Sea Power Conference.
In March, Tobruk went to Vanuatu to assist the victims of Cyclone Pam.
These ships’ records of great service are now in the vault of our long naval history. We are now recapitalising the Navy with new, more capable ships.
We have seen our first new destroyer, Hobart, enter the water. Her sister, Brisbane, is being prepared for launch and the keel of the next, Sydney, is laid. These ships will be at the heart of the future fleet and will provide significant combat power.
I congratulate the team in Adelaide working on the AWD project on its successes this year. The commissioning of HMAS Adelaide and the achievement of Intermediate Operational Certification for HMAS Canberra are major Plan Pelorus headmarks for 2015.
We have conducted trials with the Army’s Amphibious Response Element in Canberra, and deployed troops from HMAS Choules during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE.
We have commissioned 725 Squadron and we now have in country 13 of the 24 Seahawk Romeos we have purchased. The rest will be in Australia in 2016. They are proving to be the ideal aircraft for our purposes. Well done to the teams that made that achievement possible.
Navy deployed three submarines for long periods this year. This significant achievement is the result of another year of a high rate of effort by the submarine community, for which I thank everyone involved.
These are all game-changing events and demonstrate how quickly the face of the Navy is changing.
As always, what defined the year were our operations and exercises: RESOLUTE, MANITOU, PACIFIC ASSIST, NORTHERN TRIDENT and many others, along with our North and South East Asian deployments. We have worked hard at sea this year and, from my perspective, we have done well.
Border protection has continued to be a major operation in terms of hulls at sea and people deployed. I thank all those who have been engaged in our essential commitment to patrolling our maritime boundaries.
Again, our impact in the Middle East has been significant, with our drug interdictions helping to demonstrate our resolve as well as the value of our national contribution. During Operation MANITOU, Newcastle, in six separate drug searches, seized 139kg of heroin – a significant blow to the funding of terrorism.
HMAS Anzac represented Australia at the Centenary of Anzac commemorations in the Dardanelles and in the Sea of Marmora before going to the UK for Exercise NORTHERN TRIDENT.
In April, HMAS Success went from the Gulf to the Mediterranean and provided Navy presence during the Centenary of Anzac commemorations on the island of Lemnos.
Young Endeavour was off Anzac Cove on April 25 and then completed a voyage of circumnavigation with a succession of youth crews. Well done to all those who took this vessel around the world, training young Australians and keeping them safe.
HMAS Leeuwin went to Tonga in July to support the coronation of His Majesty King Tupou VI.
While we rightly think of our seagoing platforms and their capabilities, I also thank all of you who serve Navy in maintenance, sustainment and training. Your contribution is vital. Our operational capabilities depend on you and I thank you for your year of work.
As I have moved around this year I have noted how hard people are working. I have listened to the concerns you have raised and the innovative ideas you have put forward, and referred these for further consideration and, where appropriate, implementation.
We have achieved significant milestones this year, but there are many more Plan Pelorus headmarks to meet as we progress towards the future fleet. Thank you for your dedication to continuing improvement in the workplace.
As we end the year, I want to reinforce my commitment to you to act against those who do not live our values and signature behaviours.
Wherever I go to speak to you, I am always mindful of your families' support and the time Navy requires you to spend away from them.
Not all of you will be able to take leave with family and friends this Christmas, and to those of you on duty, whether it be deployed or on short notice to respond to the seasonal demands, I give my special thanks.
In closing, may I say that you continue to make me proud to serve with you. Rest assured that I will do all in my power to support you next year.
I wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas, and I look forward to seeing you in 2016.