Commander of the Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Mark Hammond was full of praise and awards on his first visit in his current role to HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin.

On February 12 he presented the crew of HMAS Childers with the Australia Cup and the Kelly Shield and also presented the Silver Platter Shore Establishment award for 2020 to Coonawarra's catering and hospitality personnel.

The Australia Cup is awarded to the Fleet unit that has achieved the highest standard of marine engineering efficiency and serviceability. 

Childers’ marine engineering department has become renowned for its cohesion, organisational skills, planning skills and professional conduct.

The department also directly contributed to the seaworthiness of the ship by developing innovative, viable solutions to problems to ensure missions continued.

The Kelly Shield is awarded to the patrol boat crew that has excelled in all aspects of its tasking, including mission effectiveness, lethality, safety, reliability, efficiency, currency and competency. 

Childers’ mission effectiveness was demonstrated in numerous deployments on Operation Resolute.

Rear Admiral Hammond said Childers’ ship’s company was highly motivated and competent and consistently operated as an effective, efficient and cohesive team.

He said the Silver Platter award recognised the friendliness and professionalism of the hospitality and catering staff at Coonawarra and the pride they took in preparing and presenting meals.

The award was made more significant as the hospitality and catering services for three messes across the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct transitioned to a Navy-managed service during the past year.

During his Darwin visit, Rear Admiral Hammond also toured base facilities and the harbour, conducted promotions, and spoke with sailors and officers.

His previous visit to HMAS Coonawarra was when he was the Deputy Chief of Navy.

Speaking to the assembled ship’s company, he highlighted Navy’s growth and retention over the past year and praised the health of the fleet, which is ready to go to sea at any time.

“This year I have a strong focus on the warfighting aspect of our fleet,” Rear Admiral Hammond said. 

“At the commanding officer’s conference, I launched the fleet optimisation program to concentrate on our skillset and mindset.

"Our responsibility is to do everything humanly and legally possible to optimise the fleet and, from what I have seen here, this place is buzzing with capability.”