Navy expands its role in the north

Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra

Topic(s): HMAS Coonawarra

Deputy Commander Northern Command Captain Bryan Parker, RAN (centre), hands over the weight of Senior Australian Defence Force Officer responsibilities for Larrakeyah Defence Precinct and Defence Establishment Berrimah to CO HMAS Coonawarra, CMDR Viktor Pilicic, RAN. (L-R) Commander Mine Warfare, Clearance Diving, Hydrographic, Meteorological and Patrol Boat Force, CAPT Warren Bairstow, CSC, RAN; Commander Navy Shore Force, CAPT Stephen Bowater, RAN; Commander of the Australian Fleet, RADM Jonathan Mead, AM, RAN; and Commander Patrol Boat Group Headquarters, CAPT Jason Hunter, RAN. (photo: LSIS James Whittle)
Deputy Commander Northern Command Captain Bryan Parker, RAN (centre), hands over the weight of Senior Australian Defence Force Officer responsibilities for Larrakeyah Defence Precinct and Defence Establishment Berrimah to CO HMAS Coonawarra, CMDR Viktor Pilicic, RAN. (L-R) Commander Mine Warfare, Clearance Diving, Hydrographic, Meteorological and Patrol Boat Force, CAPT Warren Bairstow, CSC, RAN; Commander Navy Shore Force, CAPT Stephen Bowater, RAN; Commander of the Australian Fleet, RADM Jonathan Mead, AM, RAN; and Commander Patrol Boat Group Headquarters, CAPT Jason Hunter, RAN.
The Royal Australian Navy continues to strengthen its presence in Darwin with the Commanding Officer of HMAS Coonawarra appointed as Senior Australian Defence Force Officer (SADFO) of two Top End Defence bases recently.
 
It is the first time the Commanding Officer of Coonawarra has been appointed as SADFO of both Larrakeyah Defence Precinct and Defence Establishment Berrimah.
 
The position was previously held by the Deputy Commander of Northern Command (DCOM NORCOM) and appointed by the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS).
 
Outgoing SADFO and current DCOM NORCOM, Captain Bryan Parker, said the Service Chiefs supported the Chief of the Defence Force’s decision to transfer SADFO responsibilities to Navy.
 
“While Larrakeyah Defence Precinct remains an important and dynamic joint Defence base, Joint Operations Command is about conducting operations and major ADF exercises, so it is more appropriate that the SADFO responsibilities fit with a Service Group as they have the mechanisms to strategically manage supporting infrastructure.
 
“In this particular circumstance that Service Group is Navy, noting that generating Navy capability is the main effort of both bases and Navy has the most personnel posted there,” he said.
 
Commander Viktor Pilicic is the first Commanding Officer of Coonawarra to be appointed SADFO of Larrakeyah Defence Precinct and Defence Establishment Berrimah.
 
Commander Pilicic said the addition of the SADFO role to his responsibilities made sense as Defence looked to increase its support to ADF operations in the north, particularly in the maritime arena.
 
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is currently considering two major projects worth almost $500 million at Larrakeyah Defence Precinct. The projects include the redevelopment of the precinct and the upgrade of maritime structures at HMAS Coonawarra, including a new wharf and fuel storage.
 
Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, attended the handover ceremony at Coonawarra.
 
Rear Admiral Mead said while it was important he witnessed the appointment, the main reason for his visit was to thank the officers and sailors in Darwin for their continued hard work.
 
“Today, Navy has 21 ships and 1600 sailors at sea. We do that every day, and a good proportion of those sailors come from here in Darwin,” he told the Navy personnel at the handover.
 
“The work that you do and the sacrifices you and your families make, the fact you serve the country and you put your fellow Australians ahead of yourselves is deserving of recognition.”
 
Coonawarra is located within the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct.
 
A senior military officer is appointed SADFO at each Defence base in Australia.
 
Along with a civilian Base Support Manager, the SADFO is responsible for the co-management of the base. Responsibilities include workplace health and safety, emergency management and security.
 
SADFO has the authority to take command and control of the base when needed to enable a unified response to a base security, emergency or similar incident.
 
The SADFO is also the ADF authority for base orders, instructions and plans.
 
The SADFO has the additional management responsibilities of being CDF’s representative and is responsible for Defence’s reputation management and relationship with the local community.