Rear Admiral Mayer, thank you very much for such an eloquent, inspiring and informative speech. Like you, I begin with the ship’s company of HMAS Darwin and their families, their loved ones, that are here to support them.
What a family! What a family that Australia that is so proud of. The extended family of HMAS Darwin, thank you. Let’s give you all a round of applause.
To the Commander of the Australian Fleet, Admiral Mayer, who I’ve just acknowledged. The Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Barrett. Matt Thistlethwaite, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Corrections and Emergency Services and Veterans Affairs, the Honourable David Elliot and the Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin, Commander Phillip Henry.
Today you set off, the ship’s company, on a mission of critical importance to Australia and the world’s security. The waters in which HMAS Darwin will be serving, are the most strategically important in the world. You will be operating in the busiest shipping lanes which carry most of the world’s oil trade and link Asia with the Middle East and Europe. They are threatened by pirates, smugglers and terrorists. As Rear Admiral Mayer described. Our Australian Defence Forces with our allies, is fighting terrorism in this theatre and defending order on land, in the air and in Operation Manitou, on the sea.
You are part of that vitally important Australian and allied effort, to defend the rule of law and maintain international security. We know that mixed with your anticipation and excitement, to get into the theatre and put your training and experience back to work is a deep sadness leaving your families behind and especially at this time of year. But you know that your families and all Australians are so proud of you, of your service, your professionalism, your patriotism, your work will be vital in maintaining a secure maritime environment.
Countering piracy, cutting the financial pipeline of the terrorists by intercepting drug smugglers. A task which the Darwin carried out so successfully last year, as the Admiral reminded us. This operation will, without doubt, test you both mentally and physically, but I have no doubt that in the tough times you will be sustained by the camaraderie of the ship’s company of HMAS Darwin and you will be strengthened by the support of your loved ones back home.
And to the family and friends of Darwin’s ship’s company, I say thank you again for the sacrifices you make as their loved ones. Husbands and wives, mums and dads, sons and daughters, dedicating themselves to this important cause in the interests of Australia and the security of the world.
The Darwin is a fine and capable ship of which the Navy and Australia is very proud. But it is you the ship’s company, that makes the ship what it is. A powerful Australian force for peace, security and the maintenance of the international order. You’re sailing on this mission not only as Darwin and many other ships of the Royal Australian Navy have done before, but in the wake of hundreds of generations of sailors who have set out to battle piracy.
Julius Caesar made his reputation as a Commander defeating pirates in the Mediterranean. The United States Navy itself, the greatest in the world, was founded in the first instance to combat and defeat the Barbary Pirates from Algiers. This is a mission with thousands of years of history behind it.
Know that you go on this journey with the prayers, the admiration and the thanks of the Australian people.
On behalf of the Australian Government and all Australians I wish the HMAS Darwin, her ship’s company and fair winds and following seas.