Stephen Smith MP Minister for Defence, Fleet Base East
I thank the Commanding Officer, HMAS Kuttabul, Commander Christine Clarke for that introduction.
I acknowledge: Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, the Governor of New South Wales; Marie Ficarra MLC, representing the Premier of New South Wales; Tania Plibersek, Minister for Human Services and the Member for Sydney; John Alexander, representing the Leader of the Opposition; Councillor Phillip Black, representing the Lord Mayor of Sydney; Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore, Commander Australian Fleet; Commodore Stephen McDowall, Commander Surface Forces, Commander Brett Sonter, Commanding Officer HMAS Stuart; ship’s company of HMAS Stuart; families and friends of the ships company of HMAS Stuart.
Today we welcome home the ships company of the Tartan Terror, HMAS Stuart as she returns from a six month deployment to the Middle East on the Australian Navy’s 25th rotation of Operation SLIPPER.
This was HMAS Stuart’s fourth rotation to the Gulf since operations began and follows previous rotations in 2004, 2008 and 2009.
During her deployment, HMAS Stuart provided maritime security around the Horn of Africa, conducted counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the Gulf of Aden and supported the counter-terrorism activities of international community partners.
These operations help develop and maintain maritime security and promote stability and prosperity.
HMAS Stuart continued the excellent work of Royal Australian Navy ships before her in the Middle East.
HMAS Stuart and her crew lived up to the ship’s motto “always prepared” and her core values of readiness and vigilance.
These are fine traditions of the HMAS Stuart and go back to the ship’s short notice operation to apprehend the North Korean vessel Pong Su in 2003 and the rescue of US sailors from the US patrol boat USS Firebolt in 2004.
You embodied these values through your pioneering sea swap trial from the HMAS Ballarat to the HMAS Stuart in July 2010 and through what you have achieved on your deployment.
You conducted more than 300 vessel queries and 30 boardings.
Most notable of your achievements was the Stuart’s rescue of three Yemeni fishermen held hostage by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa, and the disabling, by live-fire, of an unoccupied skiff being towed by the pirated ship, Merchant Vessel Sinar Kudus.
HMAS Stuart and her company have made an invaluable contribution to international efforts to counter piracy.
Your family and friends can be proud of what you have achieved as a crew and the challenges that you have met.
To the family and friends of the ships company, the period of absence during HMAS Stuart’s deployment has been tough and no doubt at times filled with sadness. Your support has been invaluable.
The ship’s company have adopted the Navy values of Courage, Honour, Honesty, Integrity and Loyalty.
These are the values that you aspire to as officers and sailors of the Royal Australian Navy.
These are the values expected of you by your colleagues. These are the values that hold you in good stead with our international partners and contribute to Australia’s international standing and regard.
There will be happiness as family and friends greet loved ones today, and the ships company should know that we are all very proud of the work you have done and the sacrifices you have made.
We honour what you do and what you have done. Australia honours what you do and what you have done.
On behalf of the Parliament, and all Australians, we thank you for your service.
Your family, your friends and your nation welcome you home to friendly shores.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,