Change in command at the 'stone frigate'

Published on LEUT John Cole (author), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Harman, Change of Command

Command of Canberra's HMAS Harman passed to Commander Alison Westwood (left) last month, with outgoing Commander Jayne Craig taking up her new posting as the Director of Navy Employment Conditions in Canberra. (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
Command of Canberra's HMAS Harman passed to Commander Alison Westwood (left) last month, with outgoing Commander Jayne Craig taking up her new posting as the Director of Navy Employment Conditions in Canberra.

Command of Canberra's HMAS Harman passed to Commander Alison Westwood last month, with outgoing Commander Jayne Craig taking up her new posting as the Director of Navy Employment Conditions in Canberra.

HMAS Harman, located on the border of the ACT and NSW, was first commissioned in 1943.

Nicknamed the 'stone frigate' (given its distance from the sea), the base is the administrative support centre for all Navy personnel located in and/or posted in Canberra, or on overseas postings, and the surrounding ACT region. In addition, the communications facility at Harman is a fundamental link in the Australian Defence Force's communications capability.

At the handover ceremony, Commander Westwood said the role was important because the base was all about people.

"From its history as a communications base, to [Harman's role in] the Navy which would not exist without people, communications is key at this base," she said.

"I am looking forward to taking on the challenges and responsibilities of looking after more than 1,500 people across a range of locations."

Born in Launceston, Commander Alison Westwood joined the Navy in 1991, graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy with a Bachelor of Arts in 1993 with Honours from the University of NSW in 1994. She completed Seaman Officer training and served as an Officer of the Watch in HMA Ships Tobruk and Sydney from 1996-1999.

Following this she embarked on a career in Intelligence, deploying in various platforms, both surface and subsurface, and with Command Staff to the Middle East in 2003.

 In 2004 Commander Westwood she completed her Masters in Business Administration through the University of New England, focusing on Human Resource Management. She has also been employed across a range of staff officer roles at operational and strategic headquarters levels in the intelligence community. This included roles at the now Navy Communications and Information Warfare and Submarine Operations at Headquarters Joint Operations Command.

Promoted to Commander in January 2011, she took up the position of Executive Officer at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney.

During her tenure Commander Westwood also performed the duties as Liaison Officer for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, during her review into treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force. She received recognition as one of the Top 100 Navy Leaders for her efforts in both roles.

Since this time Commander Westwood has undertaken further staff roles both in the Intelligence and navy personnel communities, including in Navy's personnel management area. In 2015 she deployed to the Middle East again as the senior intelligence officer for the region.

The outgoing Commander Craig will now lead the Directorate of Navy Employment Conditions, providing support to all Navy members with regard to salary, benefits and allowances. She paid tribute to the hard work, endeavour and untiring support of all her support staff at Harman, noting the role had been exciting and fulfilling at all stages. She thanked her family, friends and colleagues for their support in the role noting the small team had such sweeping responsibilities.

As part of the handover, Commander Craig presented awards to standout members of the Harman team and her Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kristen Watts regaled the assembled company with statistics reflecting the period of command.

The 'stone frigate' remained with zero miles steamed but certainly advanced the welfare of personnel across Navy and the Australian Defence Force.

For more information on HMAS Harman, visit http://www.navy.gov.au/establishments/hmas-harman.