Churchill Fellowship opens new opportunities for Maritime Trade Operations

Published on LEUT Rilana Ostheim (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Commander Fiona Ewington, RANR, at Fleet Base West with MV Stoker in the background, has recently completed international research sponsored by the Churchill Fellowship Trust into military doctrine and maritime trade protection. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
Commander Fiona Ewington, RANR, at Fleet Base West with MV Stoker in the background, has recently completed international research sponsored by the Churchill Fellowship Trust into military doctrine and maritime trade protection.

The chance to pursue an international research project outside of her busy Maritime Trade Operations day to day work life has opened up new opportunities for a dedicated Navy officer and the Navy warfare community.

Churchill Fellowship recipient, Commander Fiona Ewington, has recently completed a six-week research program through Europe and the United States of America. CMDR Ewington was able to work alongside allied colleagues involved in producing military doctrine, and to consult about best practice between the military and commercial maritime industries.

“The opportunity to discuss in depth best-practice models, and the varied methods used to deliver similar outcomes face-to-face has been a valuable experience during my research”, CMDR Ewington said.

“Many of the challenges experienced by Australian Maritime Trade Operations in promoting the operational effect and value-add to the warfare commander were also experienced by each allied capability consulted.”

CMDR Ewington explained that Maritime Trade Operations is the only capability within the Australian Defence Force with the commercial maritime expertise necessary to inform military operations on sea lanes crucial to national interests.

“The opportunity to contribute to the NATO Shipping Working Group, an annual meeting of allied trade protection capabilities with more than 50 delegates representing 15 countries, was a highlight of the program”, she said.

“Discussing common operational and training procedures concerning the protection of maritime trade and freedom of navigation for both merchant mariners and military units provided me with a greater understanding of equivalent naval disciplines.”

Grateful to the maritime warfare specialists who shared their experience, CMDR Ewington has developed a number of recommendations, providing a platform for Maritime Trade Operations as a complementary warfare capability.

“My recommendations represent an opportunity for the Australian Defence Force to enhance coordinated joint maritime warfare planning and execution,” she said.

“Together with my team, we will ensure that the contacts made are used to collaborate on policy and operational effects in the future.”

Australia will host delegates of the 11 member nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans Shipping Working Group in Sydney during February 2019 and deliver multinational Exercise BELL BUOY 19 next May to build stronger interoperability links with its international partners.