As our Navy prepares for the 2018-19 Christmas Reduced Activity Period, I want to thank you all for your dedication, commitment and contribution this year.
As you have heard me say, it is an important time to be in our Navy. I am aware of the significant work you have all done over this year; we have had an average of 1600 people at sea every day this year, which is a remarkable achievement, but this rate of effort puts a lot of pressure on our workforce and the families who support us.
During my recent travels, I had an opportunity to reflect on some of our achievements this year since I assumed command in July.
There have been many significant announcements and achievements, such as the selection of the Hunter class frigate, commissioning of HMAS Brisbane and 822XSQN, naming the Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, as well as commencing build of OPV 1, which will be named Arafura.
I witnessed the launch of NUSHIP Supply and the laying of the keel block for her sister ship Stalwart.
All of these capabilities require considerable resources from our capability teams, but are integral to building our fighting Navy.
Critical work has taken place to further develop Seaworthiness and establish the Office of the Defence Seaworthiness Regulator.
We have engaged with all of our priority one countries through port visits, exercises, operations, symposiums and exchanges.
However, I see the most important thing to have occurred is the real groundswell of effort across the enterprise to address our challenges in retention and improving the quality of life for our Navy people.
Some of the conversations I have heard and been a part of. The convictions shown by people to participate in the important conversations has been nothing short of exemplary.
I see this as one of the great positives of the year and something I am keen to pursue in the coming months.
Mission first - people always.
You are our most valuable resource, and we will back that up with tangible actions now and into 2019.
We are working to match our people’s desire to serve with an environment where their service is enabled and valued within every team.
There is a team behind everything we do and it is the family team that is at the forefront of our minds as we head into the festive season.
We need to continue to support those that may not get much time with their family team this Christmas.
For those who will be deployed, or on duty this Christmas, I thank you for your continued vigilance. Your sacrifice greatly enables the security and safety of not only Navy people who are on leave, but that of the Australian people and our way of life.
I look forward to seeing you return to work in 2019 with a positive, fighting focus that we can use to tackle 2019.
Enjoy your Christmas and stay safe.