“We stand with you” - CN visits Navy’s North Queensland Force

Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), POIS Peter Thompson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cairns, QLD

Topic(s): Plan Pelorus, HMAS Maryborough (P95), Chief of Navy

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN, speaks with Cairns based officers and sailors during a visit to HMAS Cairns, Qld. (photo: POIS Peter Thompson)
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN, speaks with Cairns based officers and sailors during a visit to HMAS Cairns, Qld.

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan has paid a visit to Townsville and HMAS Cairns, telling members any impact from a current operational surge will be shared across the Royal Australian Navy.

The Chief of Navy met with hydrographic sailors and officers, Patrol Boat personnel and members posted to the shore establishment through a series of ‘Clear Lower Decks’ – Navy’s equivalent of a town hall meeting.

The gatherings gave Vice Admiral Noonan the opportunity to brief members on the key issues facing the Navy, and offered the sailors and officers a chance to have their say on issues of concern to them.

Some of those who were present at the meetings are force assigned to Operation RESOLUTE and Chief of Navy conveyed to them the widespread support they enjoy across the Royal Australian Navy.

“We have learned many lessons from our past experiences on border protection operations.

“Those of you involved can be assured that any future efforts will be shared across the Royal Australian Navy,” CN said.

Vice Admiral Noonan also took the opportunity to call out a recent media report that was critical of how a fire was managed on board HMAS Maryborough in 2017.

He said the article was raised as a concern by sailors as it unfairly targeted those involved.

“It fails to properly acknowledge the tremendous efforts of HMAS Maryborough’s ship’s company on 26 May 2017, and the continuous improvement process that our Navy people undertake to ensure the safety and seaworthiness of our ships.

“As the professional head of our Navy, I know that Maryborough’s engine room fire did not become a major tragedy thanks to the swift, professional and selfless response of Maryborough’s crew.

“They drew upon their knowledge, followed procedures, invoked their training and exercised sound judgement in all their actions,” CN said.

The importance of seaworthiness and airworthiness is a key outcome in Navy’s new strategy – ‘Plan Pelorus 2022’ – and is essential for us to be able to deliver safe and capable platforms to conduct operations.

“Pelorus takes a ‘people first, mission always’ approach to everything we do,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“I have come away from Cairns with a better understanding of the issues facing our people here.

“Morale is high, but we need to keep talking and listening if we’re to grow as a capable and professional force,” he said.