Today the Australian Navy celebrated 115 years of continuous operations since its inception in 1901. Navy personnel attended birthday celebrations at sea, on shore establishments and in the nation’s capital.
In recognition of the significant milestone, the Navy’s flag, the Australian White Ensign, replaced the Australian National Flag flying from the Canadian Flagpole at Regatta Point in Canberra between 8am and sunset.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, led commemorations across the globe and highlighted the proud tradition of service of the modern Navy as among one of the most capable in the world.
“On any given day, more than 700 Navy personnel are assigned to operations on Australian and international waters alongside those others who continue training to fight and win at sea,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
Vice Admiral Barrett addressed a commemorative service at the Navy Memorial, in Canberra, to remember all Navy people who have lost their lives on duty, wherever they lie, alone or with their ships, across the seas and oceans of the world.
“Today is a day for our personnel and the nation to look back on our proud history, remember those lost and wounded in service of their nation and cast our eyes forward to a bright future," he said.
“Our new capabilities, talented personnel and committed public service staff are the critical bits and pieces that come together each day to safeguard the peace of our maritime nation."
HMAS Darwin is currently deployed on operations in the Middle East conducting anti-drug trafficking and maritime security patrols as part of the 31-nation Combined Maritime Forces in the region. Despite the ship’s high operational tempo, sailors and officers took the time to reflect on 115 years of continuous operations.
Tradition and the challenges of being onboard an Australian warship are the things that drive Darwin sailor Able Seamen Marcelle Hare.
“The Royal Australian Navy has a rich tradition of getting the job done despite the odds or difficulties of serving at sea,” he said.
“I am very proud to be a part of that.”
Darwin will continue her duties as part of Operation MANITOU until she is relieved mid year.
From the ship to the city for which she was named - in Darwin itself, HMAS Coonawarra’s ship’s company has marked the milestone in a uniquely tropical way, with a birthday watermelon. The ship’s company of the Navy’s busiest operational base was also joined by personnel from its 12 resident units in giving the service three cheers to celebrate the occasion.
“We’re just a little bit different here in Darwin, so we thought a ceremonial watermelon would better reflect our tropical lifestyle,” said Coonawarra’s Ship’s Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Andrew Templeton.
“Also, we’re really focused on health and weight-loss at the moment, because so many of us are taking part in the Coonawarra Biggest Loser challenge, so a birthday cake for Navy’s birthday was never going to be the right fit for this lean, green fighting machine.”
The Navy was initially known as the Royal Commonwealth Naval Force on establishment on 1 March 1901, and was the first independent Navy in the Commonwealth.
In 1911, the fleet was renamed the Royal Australian Navy and since that time has proven its ability to defend Australia and its interests, contribute to maritime security in the region, and maintain a commitment to fight and win at sea. Navy personnel continue to work tirelessly around the clock at home and on operations.