Coonawarra change of command

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), ABIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

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Topic(s): Establishments, Bases and Headquarters, Ceremony and Traditions, HMAS Coonawarra, Change of Command

Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra, Commander John Navin, hands over his command to Commander Viktor Pilicic at HMAS Coonawarra. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra, Commander John Navin, hands over his command to Commander Viktor Pilicic at HMAS Coonawarra.

Command of Darwin Navy base, HMAS Coonawarra, has been passed from Commander John Navin to Commander Viktor Pilicic.

As the homeport for 12 of the Australian Navy’s Armidale class patrol boats, Coonawarra’s role in providing direct support to operations has earned the base the right to be known as the ‘busiest port in the Navy.’

In reflecting on his time as Commanding Officer of Coonawarra, Commander Navin said he was proud of the efforts put in by his team to efficiently support the operational fleet.

Coonawarra supports a very high operational tempo of Armidale class patrol boat activity, diligently working to protect northern Australian waters from a range of possible threats, including illegal fishing, narcotics traffic, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and irregular maritime arrivals," he said.

“It is constant work, and every sailor and officer at Coonawarra works hard in direct support to those warships, and the operations they conduct.

Coonawarra also regularly hosts a wide range of other warships from both the Australian Navy and numerous partner nations.

"In 2016 we saw ships from the US, Canada, Japan and India, among others, as well as visits from near neighbours including Papua New Guinea and Indonesia."

Darwin hosted Exercise KAKADU in 2016, which saw a massive fleet presence, including the first visit to the Top End by one of the Australian Navy’s new amphibious assault ships, HMAS Adelaide.

“We also brought Navy to the Darwin community, with a successful Navy Week which had the Navy Band visiting schools and giving public performances throughout Darwin and Palmerston," he said.

His tenure culminated in Coonawarra being awarded the 2016 Governor’s Cup, which recognises the Australian Navy shore establishment that has excelled in all aspects of operations, safety, training and support to the fleet.

“I am proud of my team for having earned this recognition, and am proud to have had the privilege to lead them for the past three years,” Commander Navin said.

As the incoming Commanding Officer, Commander Pilicic is no stranger to Darwin, having previously served as Commanding Officer of a patrol boat crew, as well as in key roles in the Patrol Boat Group and Headquarters Northern Command.

“Darwin’s strategic location in northern Australia means that Coonawarra is a high profile base that forms an important part of Navy’s operations," he said.

With some 650 Navy personnel posted to the Northern Territory in a range of roles supporting single service and joint functions, Coonawarra is also a vital part of the Top End community.

“Our people and their families are an active and visible part of the community, involved in a diverse range of professional, school, sporting, charity and social interactions.

“I look forward to working alongside Navy and other Defence members during my time here to ensure that we support our fleet in meeting Navy’s mission to fight and win at sea," Commander Pilicic said.