Success breeds success for Norris

Published on Ms Claudia Harrison (author)

Captain Allison Norris on the bridge of HMAS Success (photo: Unknown)
Captain Allison Norris on the bridge of HMAS Success

Captain Allison Norris, is one of five Royal Australian Navy personnel to receive the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in the 2015 Queens Birthday Honours. 

Captain Norris who was nominated for her outstanding achievement as the ‘On-Scene Commander’ and Commanding Officer of HMAS Success for the surface search for debris following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 said she considered it a great honour to receive the award.

“When Success sailed from Fremantle on 19 March last year to join the search, I didn’t realise quite the extent of the task ahead," she said.

"Conditions in the Southern Indian Ocean were dreadful and not conducive to the mission.  The search tasking continued 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

“I am immensely proud and extremely grateful for this formal recognition of my service and efforts during this operation. But this achievement was a team effort, and I thank my crew for their unwavering attempts during the search, to provide answers to the families and friends of those lost. 

“I have been very privileged to lead a group of dedicated and very talented officers and sailors who did an incredible job under very trying circumstances.” 

Captain Norris demonstrated great leadership, dedication and professionalism working with coalition forces to coordinate up to 17 ships from five nations under harsh environmental conditions and unique operational circumstances.

While there have definitely been other challenges, Captain Norris said she considered her time in Success and the ship’s involvement in Operation Southern Indian Ocean as a career highlight. 

“I was exceptionally proud of the focus and dedication to the mission, demonstrated by the ship’s company as their thoughts were constantly of the distraught loved ones of the 237 passengers and crew onboard MH 370.”

While Commanding Officer of HMAS Success, in addition to Operation Southern Indian Ocean, Captain Norris also participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014, where the ship was involved in replenishment and logistic support for and she experienced the opportunity to again work with units from the 23 participating nations. 

Growing up in Maitland, New South Wales, and joining the Royal Australian Navy in 1987 she recalled that when she joined women could not serve in combat related roles, but since the early 1990s women have served proudly at sea in warfare and other roles.  

“In the past 25 years, the role of women within Navy has expanded to include all aspects of the service and I expect the next 25 years will deliver a similar level of achievement.”