The year commenced as the one in which HMAS Sydney was set to decommission, but rather than slowly decline with age, Sydney completed one of the busiest years in its 32 year history.
HMAS Sydney completed a maintenance period from the beginning of January through March which proved challenging as it required a very large amount of work to be completed in a shortened period of time.
While in maintenance, the Sydney's crew managed to provide support to the Aegis School Ship Activity, complete Command Team Training for warfare sailors and successfully conduct training with the United States 3rd Fleet.
The Aegis School Ship activity provided personnel an opportunity to get a taste of what is to come with the arrival of the Aegis Weapon System in the Hobart class destroyers. This training program was specifically designed to test several key aspects of operations room manning that will be critical to Navy's understanding in how best to employ its personnel to meet the challenges presented by Aegis.
“The opportunity to learn and operate Aegis equipment gave me a taste of the future roles to come for Combat System Operators, and to be honest, it was exciting,” said Petty Officer Doug Hamilton one of Sydney’s two Combat System Supervisors.
After completing the maintenance period, Sydney sailed at the beginning of April to support Operation RESOLUTE in what would end up a five and a half month deployment. During this deployment, Sydney participated in a number of exercises which included BERSAMA SHIELD and KAKADU.
Exercise KAKADU was a highlight for the ship's crew during which Sydney was in charge of the Blue Task Force which included Japanese Destroyer Hatakaze and Philippine Navy Ship Ramon Alcarez.
During KAKADU, Sydney also hosted a successful reception for the Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer which included a traditional welcome to nation and the Bungaree Dance Group.
Whilst working with Hatakaze some members of Sydney's crew conducted a cultural exchange. Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Shannen Rowe particularly enjoyed the opportunity to visit Hatakaze.
“Being onboard for a day at sea really gave me a sample of the routines conducted by Japanese sailors, and other than the language they were very similar to our own,” she said.
Returning to Fleet Base East for a three week period in late September, Sydney participated in Exercise TRITON SIM. During the exercise Sydney became the first Australian Navy ship to successfully conduct a war game via data link with shore entities and other ship’s operations teams that were based at HMAS Watson and HMAS Stirling. This simulated training will be key to ensure the Navy continues to improve its high end war fighting capability into the future.
As soon as Exercise TRITON SIM completed, Sydney sailed once again, this time to support HMAS Success in the conduct of her Mission Readiness Work Up prior to the deployment for Operation MANITOU.
Continuing the good work, Sydney then sailed for New Zealand in support of the Surface Combatant Navigation Course. After only one week of training and port visits to Auckland and Nelson, Sydney was reassigned in support of the G20 Leaders Summit off the Queensland coast.
The following week Sydney set sail for the waters of New Zealand and the conduct of the Surface Combatant Navigation Course. Sydney conducted port visits to Auckland and picturesque Nelson and completed the first week of training for the embarked students. Sydney could not complete the navigation training as the ship was then force assigned to Operation SAVILLE off the Queensland coast for the G20 Leaders Summit.
Sydney’s final week at sea for 2014 was spent operating in company with HMA Ships Stuart, Parramatta and Rankin, supported by 816 and 723 Squadrons during the Principal Warfare Officer Warfare Assessment Week.
In 2015 Sydney is now scheduled to decommission; however, before completing that, the ship is taking on the role of harbour training ship. Sydney will continue to develop Navy capability through the training of junior engineering personnel.