Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond, AM, RAN paid a visit to HMAS Stirling and Fleet Base West recently for the latest in the series of Leading Seaman Forums being delivered across Navy.
Speaking to a large gathering of Leading Seamen from Stirling and west-based ships and submarines, RADM Hammond highlighted the important role their rank played in Navy’s structure.
“When I first came into this job as DCN, I was reminded of the unique position our Leading Seamen hold,” he said.
“I’d board a helicopter and a leading hand would give a safety brief and strap me into my seat, or walk onto a ship and it was a leading hand at the top of the gangway, or head up to the bridge and a leading hand was running the bridge routine.
“And even when you walk into Chief of Navy’s office, it’s two Leading Seamen who are the first people you see.
“That’s when it hit me that you and your cohorts actually run the Navy and are the face of Navy; this gives you an incredible opportunity to define how Navy is perceived and how effective we are at conducting operations.
“That’s the reason I signed more than 2700 letters to all of you; because I recognise the positive impact that leading hands had on my own career and continue to have on the careers of all young sailors.”
RADM Hammond said another reason behind the push to engage sailors of Leading Seaman rank was in order to get people talking about the issues facing the current generation of sailors.
“In my recent Facebook post I was asked what I would say to someone who was considering leaving Navy, and my response was ‘let’s have a conversation and find out what the issues are behind that decision’,” he said.
“But it’s not because we’re losing large numbers of people, in fact, our separation rate is the healthiest it’s been for years and we don’t have a problem in that area; what we have is a growth opportunity.
“We actually have a mandate to grow Navy by another 1000 people in the next four years, the last time we did that was during the Vietnam War.
“But we just don’t want all of this growth to come through recruiting; it’s much better to grow Navy through a combination of recruiting and retention.
“And this can only be done by opening up a dialogue which is what we are trying to do through these forums.”
RADM Hammond said he was receiving plenty of feedback from previous forum participants, and encouraged the current group of attendees to keep the conversation going in their respective workplaces.