As an island nation, Australia’s modern history is entwined with the sea, so it is only fitting that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) joined with the maritime community on Wednesday 25 June to mark the International Maritime Organisation’s Day of the Seafarer.
The Day of the Seafarer recognises the unique contribution made by mariners, by increasing awareness among the general public of the indispensable services they render to international trade, the world economy and society at large.
As 90% of world trade by volume and 75% by value is carried by sea, maritime trade is critical for national security and Australia’s prosperity, along with that of its allies and most regional states.
The Director of the RAN’s Maritime Trade Operations (MTO) Team 1 (MTOT1) Captain Michael Beard leads Navy’s efforts to build and maintain links with the Australian Maritime community at all levels, together with providing a strong interoperable capability developed in conjunction with allied navies and the adoption of NATO Naval Cooperation and Guidance of Shipping doctrine.
“Trade is Australia’s economic centre of gravity and efforts to protect that ability remain in what Navy does.
“The safe and uninterrupted passage of seaborne trade and shipping during conflict or political tension remains important for Australian national security and prosperity,” Captain Beard said.
Maritime Trade Operations have always been some of the most pivotal tasks of the RAN, ever since assuming control of the ‘trade’ function from the Royal Navy in 1913, at the time of the arrival of the first Australian Fleet unit.
In the subsequent hundred years the RAN has supported the civil maritime community through two world wars, the Cold War and a range of naval operations ranging from humanitarian relief to trade-protection and military operations in our region and around the world.
Today the MTO unit’s mission is to provide the Australian Defence Force link to the commercial maritime industry that enables the protection of seaborne trade, a mission that is realised by establishing relationships with key industry and allied security partners.
Lieutenant Commander Richard Munton, Operations Officer for MTOT1, coordinates the team’s delivery of specialist MTO capability, with the current operational focus being on counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.
“MTO has provided an ongoing capability to augment the UK-lead Maritime Security Operation in Dubai since 2010.
“During a continuous rotation of three to four month deployments, RAN MTO officers have on average driven between 17,000-20,000 kilometres and conducted in excess of 400 briefings to ships Masters on counter piracy issues.
“These efforts, along with those of allied navies, the implementation of Best Management Practices and the use of embarked security teams has resulted in a sharp decline in piracy activity in the region,” Lieutenant Commander Munton said.
Seafarers are the people without whom food, clothes, gifts, gadgets or even basic needs would not reach our doors.
Through the efforts of MTOT1 the RAN plays a key role in creating a better, safer and more secure world in which seafarers can operate, thus supporting one of the key aims of the International Maritime Organisation’s Day of the Seafarer.