"2010 Creswell Oration"
Vice Admiral Russ Crane AO RAN
Chief of Navy

(Verbatim as presented, without overhead slides)

1 March 2010.



VADM Russ Crane AO RAN
Chief of Navy

Good afternoon Mr Michael Thurston, Consul-General for the United States; CMDR John Wilkins, President of the Victoria Division of the Navy League; Mr Rex Williams, Chairman of the Australian Navy Foundation Day Organising Committee; members of the Creswell and Tickell families; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to join you for today's services to commemorate the foundation of the Australian Navy, and I am honoured to have been invited to present this year's Creswell Oration, in memory of our Navy's founding father, Vice Admiral William Rooke Creswell.
I must particularly acknowledge Mr (Rex) Williams, CMDR (John) Wilkins and the Foundation Day Committee for their extraordinary efforts this, and every year, to commemorate the Australian Navy.
On behalf of all of us, thank you.
In January this year, the RAN hosted the 2010 Sea Power Conference in Sydney, focusing on 'Combined and Joint Operations from the Sea,' with a view to our new and expansive amphibious capability which will arrive in 2013 with our first LHD. Although the Sea Power Conference was firmly fixed on the future and how best to prepare for it, Australia's naval future cannot be understood or developed in isolation from our history and foundations. The LHDs, and the maritime future outlined in the 2009 Defence White Paper, are but the next stage in development for our Australian fleet.
To understand the future of joint amphibious operations, let's turn our minds back to the very first combat experiences of the emerging RAN, as the First World War rapidly spread from Europe across the globe. After unsuccessful attempts to locate and engage the German cruiser squadron among the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand combined to create a Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, of whom 500 (one third) were Naval reserves. They set out on 19 August 1914, just weeks after the declaration of war, and landed on 11 September in Rabaul. In taking the wireless station at Bitapaka, it was an Australian Naval Officer, Lieutenant Thomas Bond, DSO, RANK, who was first decorated in the Great War, and two Australian sailors with an Army Medical Officer who were the first to fall. Among the many points of significance about the Rabaul engagement is the emphasis, from our very beginning, on a joint expeditionary capability. The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) was a joint force and the concept of their operation was the projection of force from the sea in an essentially maritime environment, using the capabilities of our cruiser HMAS Australia and the destroyer squadron. This early approach was consolidated as the war progressed, including through the exploits of AE2 as 'first in' in support of the Australian landings at Gallipoli. She was lost in the Sea of Marmara, but her efforts were continued by the RAN Bridging Train, a shore engineering force working in conjunction with British and Commonwealth troops who were the last Australians out of the ill-fated campaign.
In the Second World War, less well-known events saw Voyager grounded, then bombed, landing troops in Betano Bay, Timor in 1942, and Hobart leading amphibious operations in Borneo as the Japanese were swept back in 1945, memorialising names such as Tarakan, Brunei and Balikpapan which we recall now through our LCHs.
In the Korean War, which passes its 60th anniversary this year, Warramunga supported the Inchon landings.
We should not underestimate the role of jointery during these early years.
At the time, and as late as 1945 and the Korean War, the set-piece naval battle between capital ships at sea continued to be seen as the decisive means of both victory and the securing of sea power.
The enduring public fascination with the Sydney-Emden clash and the devastating encounter between Sydney II and the German raider Kormoran a generation later demonstrates this clearly.
However, ignoring the historical role of joint operations from the sea belies an emerging trend now recognised, which is that Vice Admiral Creswell's vision, which is usually seen as a Naval strategy for Australia's defence, is properly understood as a maritime strategy. This means that the security he envisaged at sea is a joint product of Naval and other military and civilian forces.
The 2009 White Paper makes this point explicitly.
It states that the ADF's primary obligation is to "deter and defeat attacks on Australia. This entails a fundamentally maritime strategy, for which Australia requires forces that can operate with decisive effect throughout the northern maritime and littoral approaches to Australia and the ADF's primary operational environment more generally" (paras 8.6-7).
The future force envisaged in the White Paper is one which relies on joint capability and joint operations.
This is not an innovation.
We have seen that, over nearly 100 years, the RAN can and has succeeded in the amphibious theatre and in joint forces. As recently as last September, following the devastating earthquake, HMAS Kanimbla landed an amphibious relief force in the Indonesian region of Padang. What has changed is the strategic acknowledgement of the need for jointery in the maritime sphere.
A quick glance over the DCP and Force 2030 projections makes this clear.
I have mentioned the LHDs, which are part of a major push towards amphibious deployment and sustainment. Three ships are able to embark a battle group, along with their headquarters and vehicles, as well as conduct multi-spot helicopter operations. The Hobart class AWDs, and the future frigates, are being designed with an eye firmly fixed on their maritime effect interacting with the capabilities of air and land forces.
The future submarines, about which there has rightly been much public discussion, will be long range vessels with a marked land attack capability and broad scope to combine with special forces. Structurally, we are already operating under the single aegis of HQJOC.
As single services, we train and sustain our forces, but assign them to JOC to achieve the operational results required of us. The challenges of this re-alignment of focus are many. Chief among them are the personnel challenges, and it is that which I would like to spend some time discussing.
New Generation Navy
Recognising that we are moving overtly in a joint direction for Force 2030, as well as acknowledging that we need, as an organisation, to respond to society as it is now and not as it has been in the past, Navy has embarked on a five year program of cultural reform, called New Generation Navy. New Generation Navy, or NGN in common Navy parlance, is our vehicle to achieve the strategic goals in the White Paper.
Importantly, it is an internal force for change and is driven by the desire of our own members for deep and meaningful cultural change in the way we achieve our missions.
As Chief, I am not surprised by the desire for change.
Personnel management is complex and needs to readjust at intervals to reflect shifts in knowledge, training and social expectations. We must recognise that the resilience of our people is an element of capability as much as the resilience of our platforms.
NGN has three pillars for reform: culture, leadership and structure.
From your own experience, I have no doubt that you will agree with me when I say that, of those three, structural change is the easiest and certainly the fastest to achieve. n its first six months, NGN restructured Navy's internal organisation to reflect our new Group role as a 'raise, train and sustain' organisation since HQJOC was established.
In cultural terms, we have advanced considerably in the last eighteen months in identifying and describing how we want Navy people at all levels to behave. This takes the form of ten signature behaviours, which complement our traditional Navy values of Honour, Honesty, Courage, Loyalty and Integrity. What underlies them is a strong sense of loyalty to, and concern for the welfare of, our Navy people. The signature behaviours include: respecting the contribution of every individual, promoting their well-being and development, communication, cost consciousness, driving decision-making down (which involves trust in our people to get their jobs done) and making Australia proud. Implementing these behaviours at all levels is our next challenge.
Every Navy member from the Flag team to our newest recruits has had an opportunity to discuss cultural change through the signature behaviours in 'Leading the Change' seminars and divisional workshops.
However, implementation is imperative.
The LHDs arrive in three years; the next posting cycles must begin to assign people to their initial crews. AWDs will not be far behind them.
Recruiting and retention has been at problematic levels for some time, with flow on effects for the speed with which we are able to train and develop new personnel to perform the difficult roles we ask of them.
In its first eighteen months, NGN cultural change has seen some inroads into these seemingly intractable problems. Separation rates are at their lowest level since 1992. While there are some statistical correlations with the GFC, links are also evident to new retention measures, including the Defence Home Owners Assistance Scheme and a fundamental restructure of our remuneration approach for our people known as the Graded Pay Structure. NGN changes will ensure that we remain an employer of choice into the future, rather than an employer of necessity.
Other emerging successes are changes to recruitment processes for former members wanting to return to service, so that they can come back in quickly, without fuss and without having to repeat training unnecessarily.
In its first year, over 40 highly qualified and experienced sailors came back to Navy. Through a program called Plan Train, which designated two frigates as training platforms, we have been able to give our newer technical sailors the opportunities they need to finish their training and get experience in their fields, so we can deploy them quickly as confident, competent crew members.
We are actively looking for the ways in which we can make our ships and workplaces more family friendly, including looking at the way we post our people and manage the sea shore roster. We are keeping options like remote work as available as we can, when our people need respite. Changing the way we think about things, and putting aside old policies and practices which no longer have practical benefit, is the means by which we can move into a new generation of Naval service.
The same approach applies to leadership, NGN's third pillar for reform. But it is a more complex field, because when we look to examples of Naval leaders to emulate, we look straight to our history, where men like LCDR Rankin, who led his crew in their sloop HMAS Yarra against the might of the Japanese cruiser squadron; CAPT Waller in Perth, lost on this day in 1942; and LCDR Max Shean, DSO and bar (who died last year) stand tall.
How do we reform our leadership ideal for the future and remain true to the traditions of our past?
This is particularly pertinent as we remember the foundation of the Australian Navy today. As we speak of our proud history and the many campaigns in which the RAN has been involved, I would take this opportunity to highlight on announcement today by the Minister for Defence, Senator the Honourable John Faulkner, that the RAN's official battle honours have been revised and approved by Her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia. Each ship, squadron and establishment displays their Battle Honours boards with immense pride and a sense of solidarity and the continuing of the unit traditions set by those who went before them.
Our earliest award, New Zealand 1860-1, includes the deployment of Victorian HMVS Victoria on colonial service as part of the RAN's history.
A review of our previous honours proposed that several new awards be recognised to reflect our most recent operations and to correct earlier cases where the service of some ships was not adequately recognised. In particular, the awards Malaya 1955-60, Malaysia 1956-7 and recognition of our long period of service in the Persian Gulf, in East Timor and as part of the effort to rebuild Iraq have been revised and approved. The deployment of our ships to the Far East Strategic Reserve was a key part of our defence strategy at the time, but their sheer success in their mission, without loss of personnel in action, means that sometimes it is too easy for their achievements to fall into the background of other battlefield losses, and these new honours should go some way to rectifying that perception.
The significance of today in announcing our new honours arises not only from our birthday as a Navy, but also the 68th anniversary this very morning of the loss of our World War Two cruiser HMAS Perth during the battle of Sunda Strait, with her captain Hec Waller and 362 of her crew. Another 105 died as prisoners of war later. The memory of Perth and her crew is immortalised on the honour board proudly carried by our current HMAS Perth III, which can be seen by all every time they use the main passageway. They know, each time they pass that board, that they follow in the footsteps of great people and share in a common purpose of defending our home.
The continuation of battle honours for all subsequent ships bearing the same name is one way that our current men and women can place themselves as part of the RAN history and tradition.
We are looking at options for a unique Battle Honours board representing the history of the entire RAN, perhaps for display in our central headquarters in Canberra. You can see on the slide one possible design. The announcement of our new battle honours is a reminder that NGN is not about discarding our traditions, or dismissing the sense of duty and service to our country which has seen our shipmates through a century of war and peace - it is about strengthening and celebrating our Australian heritage.
NGN calls on us to take the best of our traditions and to build on them.
The world has changed, and we must change with it. For the first time, the NGN team has developed a Navy-specific doctrine on leadership and the ethics of leadership, complemented by a comprehensive Leadership Framework. What this Framework recognises is that leadership is not the preserve of command or position.
We need, and expect, leadership from all our men and women based on their role. And we need not abandon our history to do this, because our history is replete with models on whom we can draw. Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean, and Leading Seaman Ronald Taylor who acted similarly in Yarra, are remembered rightly for their heroism and sacrifice, but they also inspire us as leaders.
Our new doctrine demands that we recognise and aspire to strength of character in leadership - the capacity to recognise the task and the moral courage to do what is right to achieve it.
Our target is aspirational leadership and we need to refocus away from the transactional or results-based approach, into which it is easy to slip. To that end, all ranks are now trained in the theory of leadership and encouraged to think about and discuss ethics.
As you can see, NGN is not a program that can be ticked and closed through a series of KPIs. It will take at least five years to cement the culture of Naval service that we are seeking, and it will involve the entire Naval community, including the permanent force, reserves, former members, and families.
NGN is an imperative in more than one. It is the future for our people, and it is also the future for the fleet. I am sure you have heard that Force 2030 is to be funded in part by internal financial reform in the Department of Defence. NGN ensures that in the drive to save money through efficiency and reform, we don't lose sight of people as our most important factor. Their willingness to contribute to our Navy has not changed.
The assessment phase for SRP has been conducted over the past year and the reform streams and savings targets will be implemented soon. We are looking at reform streams in every field of our organisation. For example, logistics is a key stream. Rationalising departmental warehouse sites from 24 to 7 and improving communications and IT links between them is expected to generate 330 million in savings over 5 years alone. Consolidating over 200 ICT data centres into less than 10 and standardising Defence's information and communications technology environment is expected to save $1.9 billion in five years.
In the maintenance area, it currently costs $4.9 billion each year to maintain over 100 weapons systems and capabilities in the ADF, ranging from ships and aircraft down to individual weapons. We have already started going through these systems, looking at how to eliminate the inefficient parts of our maintenance and support systems, without reducing the quality and safety of our systems.
SRP also includes non-savings streams, by which I mean efficiency reforms to increase transparency and accountability in our processes across the department, including procurement, estate, science and technology and intelligence. NGN gives Navy a values-based decision-making process in implementing the changes SRP requires of us. It ensures that SRP is about sustainable reform for the future force, and not a simple exercise in budget-cutting.
For this reason, SRP incorporates provision for us to invest some savings back into reform streams to produce better long term results.
The tempo of our operations today gives us ample means to see why cultural, as well as financial, reform is critical. We have considered our past and our future in joint operations from the sea, and I would like to finish with a reminder of where we are today. A year ago this month, the Australian fleet entered Sydney harbour and took part in an historic Freedom of Entry March through Sydney. The moment they sailed into Sydney recalled that other Fleet entry in 1913, when the fleet, led by HMAS Australia, first arrived as the Royal Australian Navy. In the 12 months since then, our ships and our people have deployed around the world. We have provided humanitarian assistance to Indonesia (Padang), Samoa, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea.
We contribute to operations ashore in East Timor, Sudan, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Our contribution to Op Slipper is in a flexible maritime security and anti-piracy mandate, and HMAS Stuart is patrolling in the Middle East area now. She completed 23 boardings in just four days earlier this year. Indeed in May last year, while transiting through the region, Sydney and Ballarat joined the anti-piracy effort by assisting MV Dubai Princess which was being attacked by pirate crews. Gascoyne and Yarra cleared WW2 era UXO from the Solomon Islands, including a moored mine, 3 bombs of 100kg or more and a range of small projectiles. Melville had surveyed these earlier.
I want to make special mention of all our people who have served on OP Resolute in the last year, particularly since I have been speaking of leadership and moral character in difficult circumstances. We must recognise that constabulary operations can be as difficult and dangerous as any overseas tasking, and I have every faith in the men and women of our Navy and our commitment to the preservation of life at sea. Their dedication to Navy, our country, and to the safety of life at sea is worthy of great admiration.
I have moved over several topics in the course of today's oration.
The common thread, I think, is the challenge to the men and women of the RAN as we face a future dominated by joint operations, and in the short term, a demanding but achievable program for internal cultural and financial reform.
These are challenges that have been faced by the RAN since Vice Admiral Creswell laboured for its foundation. Questions such as who we are, and where our strategic focus should lie are ones of great import from our foundations and long into our future.
On this anniversary of the foundation of Australia's Navy, I'm reminded of a line from Shakespeare - "Thou knowest that all my fortunes are at sea." Like Antonio in the Merchant of Venice, Australia's fortunes and her future are bound up in the maritime environment.
We have an overtly maritime defence strategy, and a plan for our future fleet, but above all, we have a fleet crewed by the men and women of the RAN, who, like all their predecessors, deserve the best of Naval leadership and culture and the firm support of the Australian people.
And it is at events such as this that the truly maritime spirit of Australia, supporting the RAN, is most evident.
Thank you again to the Organising Committee for their efforts to draw together today's events, and I look forward to speaking with more of you as our afternoon progresses.









































































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