As a milestone year for the Royal Australian Navy’s evolution towards concurrent task group operations draws to a close, the ‘con’ of Navy’s Maritime Operations organisation has transitioned from Commodore Matt Buckley to Commodore Darren Grogan.
During his tenure as Director General Maritime Operations (MAROPS), Commodore Buckley has overseen the growth of the team that oversees planning, support monitoring and executions of Navy task groups and individual ships operating around Australia, the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
“When the objective of achieving the capability to deploy concurrent task groups was initially announced, Navy’s focus was on single vessel operations,” Commodore Buckley said.
“We are now in a place where we regularly operate multi-vessel maritime task groups in our region and beyond, and the planning and execution considerations have increased significantly.
“The recent East Asia Deployment, consisting of nine surface vessels, two submarines and four maritime combat helicopters has allowed Navy to showcase its ability to conduct concurrent, distributed engagement, commemorative and multi-lateral exercise activities dispersed across the region from Japan to Indonesia.
“The MAROPS team has been providing the operational control function for many of our task groups at sea, for both single service Navy activities and activities happening under the joint operations construct, and in many ways the tempo and closely woven working environment means that working at MAROPS shares many aspects to being at sea.
“With a near continuous maritime presence in the South Pacific and around Australia’s maritime zones, on top of the regular regional deployments, the Maritime Operations team has accepted the challenge with grace and professionalism. I am proud to have worked with such a fine team.”
During the past two years, the role of MAROPS has expanded from a planning and coordination function to incorporate the execution of ‘operational control’ of maritime task groups on behalf of the Chief of Joint Operations, so the transfer of authority was marked for the first time by the handing over of an important symbol of command.
It is fitting that the handing over of the ‘con’ for MAROPS is symbolised by a telescope that has seen service in both HMA Ships Melbourne (II) and Melbourne (III), providing important links to Navy’s history and representing the watchful eye that MAROPS maintains on Navy’s people and platforms at sea.
On the day that Commodore Grogan ‘took the con’ at MAROPS in early December 2019, there were 23 ships at sea, with over 2300 Navy people embarked.
“Having served in small ships operating individually at sea and major fleet units working in task groups, I have come to appreciate the critical role that is provided by the MAROPS ‘nerve centre,’” Commodore Grogan said.
“The careful planning and coordination provided by this team is a critical factor in Navy’s current and future operations.
“I look forward to, ensuring their contributions to Navy’s objectives are well-planned, coordinated and, most importantly, recognised.
“I look forward to working with this proven team of professionals as we continue to support the Navy people working on, under and above the sea.”
Commodore Buckley’s role in building Navy’s capability will continue in 2020 as he takes on the role of Director General Navy People.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20193217.