HMAS Arunta re-joins fleet with traditional smoking ceremony

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), POIS James Whittle (photographer), SBLT Samantha Brandstater (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base West, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Arunta (F151)

Connie Craig, with fellow Arrernte tribal group members, Kumalie and Nari, addresses members of ship's company and guests during a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony held onboard HMAS Arunta at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
Connie Craig, with fellow Arrernte tribal group members, Kumalie and Nari, addresses members of ship's company and guests during a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony held onboard HMAS Arunta at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia.

A cold, wet day didn’t spoil the feeling of optimism that surrounded the Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony that marked the recent return of HMAS Arunta to Fleet Base West after a 20-month Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade.

Arunta is the first ship to undergo the program which provides significant improvements to the ship’s key sensor and communications systems.

To mark the occasion, a number of elders from the Arrernte Tribe, that the ship takes its name from, travelled from the Northern Territory to Western Australia to undertake the traditional smoking ceremony, while a Welcome to Country was provided by local Noongar elders.

Arunta’s Commanding Officer, Commander Troy Duggan, said the ship was proud to re-establish its connection with the Arrernte people, as it was important to give the crew a sense of the rich cultural heritage they are now a part of.

“The presence of tribal representatives from both the Arrernte and Noongar people at the ceremony was greatly appreciated by the entire ship’s company,” he said.

“Our long connection with our Indigenous namesake tribe remains an internationally unique and precious link – no matter what challenges and difficulties we face, I am sure we will face them with the same strength and resilience that our namesake people have done for the past 30,000 years.

“Re-joining the fleet marks an incredible achievement by the ship’s company, our support organisations, and our Australian defence industry partners in the Warship Asset Management Agreement Alliance.

“We have worked hard together to deliver one of the world’s most advanced warships, and are looking forward to getting underway for sea trials very soon.”

The AMCAP upgrade includes a platform systems remediation program to improve platform reliability and maintainability.

A key component of the upgrade improves the Anzac class Air Search capability by replacing the legacy long range air search radar with a new digital phased array radar developed by Australian company CEA Technologies. This radar complements the existing anti-ship missile defence system.

AMCAP also includes an upgrade to the ship’s communications systems, enhancing the communications capabilities of the Anzac class since the platform was introduced approximately 20 years ago.

Work was also carried out improve the ship’s habitability for the crew, while ensuring through-life supportability and reduced total cost of ownership into the future.

Arunta will soon proceed to sea to complete extensive testing and sea trials as part of the AMCAP upgrade.

Arunta is the second Australian warship to carry the name – HMAS Arunta (I) was a Tribal class Destroyer commissioned in 1942, serving with distinction in New Guinea and the Pacific between 1942–1944, and at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944 and Lingayen Gulf in 1945.

Imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: https://images.defence.gov.au/S20191510.