Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett shares his thoughts on "a very busy and rewarding year for Navy".
"The 2016 Defence White Paper has confirmed the Government’s commitment to our Navy’s largest peacetime acquisition program. And while we look ahead to this very exciting future, I can assure you it has already begun."
This year, together with our newest ships HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide, we achieved certification of the Amphibious Readiness Element and certification of Task Group Operations.
In August we took delivery of the 24th and final Seahawk Romeo helicopter built for the Royal Australian Navy, and the first operational flight deployed in HMAS Perth in June.
The first of our Air Warfare Destroyers, NUSHIP Hobart, successfully completed her first sea trials, and NUSHIP Brisbane floated off on 15 December.
As well as our significant progress introducing new capabilities, we have been heavily committed to a range of operations, exercises and regional engagement activities. Indeed, our Navy has been committed to between 13 and 16 different Australian Defence Force operations on any given day.
Our submarines have achieved a very high operational tempo this year, including Rankin’s successful nine-month deployment.
Our Mine Hunter Coastal fleet has also been busy, with all four mine hunters at sea during October conducting operations and exercises in South East Asia and the Solomon Islands.
We have participated in Exercises BERSAMA LIMA, KOMODO and RIMPAC, as well as Operations SAVILLE, RESOLUTE, RENDER SAFE AND FIJI ASSIST.
Our hydrographic force has made great strides in the Hydro Scheme, with an increasing number of surveys now complete.
And STS Young Endeavour this year conducted 17 youth voyages around Australia.
Canberra undertook her first operational deployment this year, delivering vital humanitarian assistance and disaster relief following Fiji’s Cyclone Winston in March.
This year saw the return of our 61st, 62nd and 63rd ship rotations from the Middle East region, where ships and Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 have continued the Royal Australian Navy’s reputation for making a major contribution to maritime security under Operation MANITOU.
After returning from her MANITOU deployment earlier this year, Darwin recently supported humanitarian and disaster relief operations following the earthquake in New Zealand, and last month Newcastle made headlines working with the Australian Border Force to support an Australian Federal Police operation to interdict a drug-smuggling vessel off the Queensland coast.
We recently farewelled HMAS Arunta for the Navy’s first nine-month deployment to the Middle East.
More than ever I am aware of the sacrifice your families also make in your service to the nation, particularly at this time of year. I deeply value their ongoing support to you—and to our Navy.
I also acknowledge the tremendous support from those ashore who helped make those deployments possible.
I know that many of you will be unable to take leave with family and friends this Christmas, and I thank in particular our members on duty—including those deployed far from home.
Christmas can be a stressful time, especially for those who are unable to be with their loved ones. We often talk about the importance of looking after one another, and I ask each of you to make a particular effort over this holiday period.
Please take the time to make sure your mates are OK—and, if you are concerned, don’t hesitate to seek some professional support. Your personal wellbeing is extremely important to me, to your shipmates and to your families.
I thank each and every one of you for your continued commitment and service—whether you serve in our ships, aircraft, submarines, or in the maintenance, sustainment, training and support that enables our operational capabilities. Navy’s achievements in 2016 are a credit to you all.
I now look to you all to continue this tremendous work as we prepare to bring significant capabilities and platforms into service in 2017 and beyond as 2017 will be as busy as 2016. Exercise TALISMAN SABER 17 will see certification of the Amphibious Ready Group; Hobart will commission; progress towards new Offshore Patrol Vessels, tankers and Future Frigate will be furious. All of this will take commitment, but the benefits are great.
"I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas, and I look forward to seeing and working with you again in the new year."