Leading Seamen champion change from the deckplate

Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), LSIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney

Topic(s): Navy Values & Signature Behaviours

Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond, AM, RAN, leads a discussion with Royal Australian Navy Leading Seamen at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney. (photo: LSIS Tom Gibson)
Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond, AM, RAN, leads a discussion with Royal Australian Navy Leading Seamen at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney.

The Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond has held the first in a series of Leading Seaman Forums, in a move designed to engage sailors in ways to improve Navy’s workforce. 

“There’s no point me sitting here in my role, writing policy and trying to shift the direction of culture within Navy if I don’t understand what the issues are at deckplate level,” DCN said. “Having a conversation with some of our most junior leaders will hopefully sharpen my focus upon contemporary issues that perhaps aren’t front-of-mind for me.”

RADM Hammond has explained this approach in a letter to every Leading Seaman. DCN concedes it’s been an interesting social experiment.

“As one of the most senior officers in Navy, when you sign over two and a half thousand letters to some of the most junior people in Navy inevitably there are a lot of people out there with a view,” DCN said. “But this is a genuine attempt from me to understand what the deckplate issues are for contemporary Leading Seamen. 

“Together we get it right 98% of the time – I need their help with fixing that 2% who stray away from our Values and Signature Behaviours.”

Since his promotion to DCN in March, RADM Hammond has asked all ranks to come up with solutions to Navy’s current and future workforce challenges. He says competition from the private sector will continue to force Navy to change with the times.

“When I first joined 31 years ago, our main armament was a 4.5-inch gun, and missiles were relatively new to the fight. Today everything depends upon technology and we are increasingly dependent upon the intellectual capability of the modern sailor.

“The sailor of today is diverse, complex, in high demand and highly capable and we need to make sure that we keep that front of mind.”