It has been a fast paced six months for the Maritime Human Resources Officers (MHRO) who form the Personnel and Administration (N1) team at Surface Force in Sydney.

The team was formed in January as part of the MHRO roll-out and established dedicated N1 functions within Force Commands, as part of the Fleet and wider Navy.

N1 SURFOR Lieutenant Commander Dave Reay was put straight to work tasking Operation COVID-19 personnel.

“The demands of COVID–19 have seen immediate demand and relevance for the Maritime HR Officer and somewhat a baptism of fire for this newly dedicated human resources and personnel capability,” Lieutenant Commander Reay said.

“Surface Force has been at the forefront of managing complex personnel solutions.

“More than 600 personnel entries were tracked by the SURFOR N1 Cell before the personnel database Pandemic Reporting was implemented in May."

During the past two months, Surface Force provided more than 160 personnel to Operation COVID–19 Assist.

So far August, 90 personnel departed Fleet Base East to RAAF Richmond for deployment to Victoria in support of Joint Task Force 629.2.

The group consist of personnel from Fleet Base East and HMA Ship’s Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Parramatta and new ship Supply.

For some of the Surface Force people, it was their first military aircraft flight and an exciting opportunity to experience travel on a C17A.

“The agility and flexibility of Ships to respond to ever changing situations with regard to supplying personnel at short-notice has been outstanding,” Lieutenant Commander Reay said.

The establishment of the N1 cell and MHRO capability was welcomed by the Commander of Surface Force Command Commodore Stephen Hughes.

“The skills and experience the MHRO brings to SURFOR has been invaluable and contributed to the success of our support to seaworthiness assurance, in particular through the lens of Operation Covid Assist,” Commodore Hughes said.

In March, Surface Force transitioned the maritime personnel sailors from the maritime logistics department to the executive department, in MFUs in support of the new command and control structure, which has been adopted when an MHRO will be posted to each major fleet unit during the next phases of the implementation.

At the same time, the MPERS sailors transitioned from the maritime logistics community to the newly formed Maritime Personnel Community.

Currently, there are three MHROs at sea supporting the implementation in HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide, with Choules set to receive an MHRO later this year. Another lieutenant MHRO will join the SURFOR N1 cell in early 2021.