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Commissioning of HMAS Supply (II), Garden Island, Sydney


Ladies and gentlemen.

It’s a great delight for Linda and me to be with you this morning with the Navy family to bring into service our newest warship into the Royal Australian Navy.

Can I begin by thanking Uncle Brendan for his very warm Welcome to Country, and to pass on my acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal People, and to pay my respects to their Elders past and present, particularly recognising the men and women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background for their service in the past and their service today in the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Defence Force.

Before I begin my remarks about HMAS Supply could I join with the Fleet Commander in acknowledging the passing yesterday of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

In my Address to the Nation last night I said that it was a sad and historic day. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family who have lost a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

As we mourn, we should also give thanks for HRH’s lifetime of service, devotion and commitment.

And pertinent or relevant to today is his service in the Royal Navy – including during the Second World War when he was mentioned in dispatches while a young sub-Lieutenant on-board HMS Valiant.

In the future as HMAS Supply (II) celebrates its commissioning day, perhaps HRH’s example of service would be a fitting inclusion for all to consider. 

Today is a momentous day for the crew of HMAS Supply (II), the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Defence Force.

The commissioning of a new ship not only adds to Australia’s Defence capability but is also a cause for celebration – a ‘great Navy Day’.

Personally, I am delighted to see that the Navy’s experience with the Cantabria Class ship ESPS Cantabria in 2013 has led to today’s event. I recall spending time on ESPS Cantabria with her CO, CMDR Jose Nieto, in Gladstone during TALISMAN SABRE 13 and being impressed with what she offered to the logistic support of the fleet.

For HMAS Supply (II) to be the Navy’s newest ship is especially significant for many reasons.

Supply – the name and the ship – is steeped in history, taking her name from the first Supply to arrive in these very waters in 1788. As the commissioning crew you will be mindful of her predecessor’s achievements.

In 1969, in a first for an RAN replenishment ship, Supply was awarded the prestigious Duke of Gloucester Cup for being deemed the RAN unit displaying the highest level of overall proficiency. There is no pressure on you, Ben [Captain Ben Hissink RAN, Commanding Officer, HMAS Supply (II)]!

The ship supported Royal New Zealand Navy ships during the observations of the French nuclear tests in the South Pacific.

And in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Tracy which hit Darwin in the early hours of Christmas Day 1974, she was one of several RAN ships that steamed at short notice as part of relief operations.

Indeed, HMAS Supply (I) strengthened the shield over decades of service conducting 3401 underway replenishments at sea during her lifetime.

As the commissioning crew of HMAS Supply (II), I congratulate you for returning Supply to the fleet.

One ship, many stories.

The question now is, ‘What history will you write?’

Last week, at the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force event in Canberra, I said that it is the people, not the equipment, that have built the RAAF. The same is so very true of the Royal Australian Navy. It is a Service built on courage, respect, integrity and excellence.

I have read the Commanding Officer’s vision for the crew of his ship. I quote: ‘To wake up each morning inspired, to work in a trusted team and to go home fulfilled at the end of each day.’ I commend Captain Hissink on this vision and encourage you to do whatever it takes to achieve it – to make the Navy, the ADF and Australia proud.

The second note from last week’s event for the RAAF – as I handed over the new Queen’s Colour to the ensign, I said to him that this Colour is a sign of Her Majesty’s trust in your Service, not to be taken lightly. Similarly today, as the Commissioning pennant is flown, we are saying the nation has trust in you and places its trust in you. We know you that will return that trust.

Today, in particular, can I also acknowledge previous crew members of Supply who are with us for part of this ceremony. We greatly value and respect your service. Thank you for what you have done for the proud traditions of the Royal Australian Navy.

I congratulate all on parade today and thank all those here at the Base who helped arrange this event.

I also acknowledge the many and varied contributions of those in uniform, the Australian Public Service, and those in Defence industry including our shipbuilders Navantia, for their contribution to the introduction into service of this first class vessel.

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the families of the crew of HMAS Supply (II) for the support you have provided for our Navy personnel. You are as much a part of today’s Commissioning as they are. Indeed, Australia’s new warship belongs to you and the Australian people.

To the crew and all involved in HMAS Supply (II) – enjoy today’s celebration, remember it, and take note of the esteem in which this day is held as is your Service.

On behalf of all Australians and as your Commander-in-Chief, congratulations!

It is a great Navy day.

Fair winds and following seas.

Bravo Zulu.