Husband and wife make patrol boat history

Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), Mr Glenn Campbell (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Coonawarra, HMAS Maitland (P88), HMAS Ararat (P89)

Lieutenant Commander Julia Griffin and her husband, Lieutenant Commander Khan Beaumont, in the Coonawarra Basin at the Navy's patrol boat base, HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin. (photo: Glenn Campbell)
Lieutenant Commander Julia Griffin and her husband, Lieutenant Commander Khan Beaumont, in the Coonawarra Basin at the Navy's patrol boat base, HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin.

A married couple in Darwin has become the first husband and wife in Royal Australian Navy history to command patrol boats at the same time.

Lieutenant Commander Julia Griffin assumed command of HMAS Maitland on 6 December, while Lieutenant Commander Khan Beaumont has led HMAS Ararat for the past 18 months.

Lieutenant Commander Beaumont said it was an honour to be selected for command and a bonus he could now share the experience with his wife.

“It’s awesome. I found my best mate and married her. To have Julia do what I do makes us stronger as a team. We know exactly what each other is going through and for such a unique job it is a very special partnership,” he said.

Lieutenant Commander Griffin said she had wanted to drive ships for the Navy since she was a young girl, and her selection to command was “a dream come true”.

However, while Lieutenant Commander Beaumont said he was proud to make Royal Australian Navy history with this “first”, Lieutenant Commander Griffin said the milestone was still trumped by the family’s pride in service.

“We are most proud to be part of a community that defends Australia and its assets,” she said.

HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin is the hub of Navy’s contribution to Operation RESOLUTE, a Whole-of-Government effort to protect Australia's borders and offshore maritime interests.

At any one time, up to 600 Australian Defence Force personnel work on the operation.

Lieutenant Commander Griffin joined the Navy as a Maritime Warfare Officer (MWO) in 2008. MWOs are responsible for the control and navigation of Navy ships.

Lieutenant Commander Beaumont joined in 2000 as a Combat System Operator (CSO). He commissioned as an MWO eight years later. CSOs operate the ship’s sensors to provide commanders with information about potential threats.

They met at the New Entry Officers’ Course in HMAS Creswell and started dating a year later, after meeting again at a mutual friend’s wedding. Lieutenant Commander Beaumont and Lieutenant Commander Griffin married in 2010.

Lieutenant Commander Beaumont said he never imagined he would one day command a Navy vessel.

“Someone in the Navy saw some potential in me that I didn’t realise was there. Here I am 20 years later as the captain of a patrol boat.

“The Navy is one of those great workplaces that allows you to grow. It is such a unique environment. You just have to make the choices, you have to stand up and be counted for something. It makes you a leader,” he said.

Captain Patrol Boats, Captain Alex Hawes, said the patrol boat community was proud of Navy’s history-making duo.

“Lieutenant Commander Beaumont and Lieutenant Commander Beaumont-Griffin are an example of the truly outstanding officers and sailors that work within the patrol boat community and of Navy’s support to its people to achieve their potential,” Captain Hawes said.

“Navy is proud of both officers and of the entire patrol boat community, working to protect Australia's borders and offshore maritime interests,” he said.