Captain Jim Hutton has said goodbye to his last Sea Series exercise in full-time service by bringing his expertise as the Amphibious Senior Coach, supporting the development of the Australian Amphibious Force during Exercise Sea Explorer.
Born in Scotland, Captain Hutton began his military service more than 40 years ago when he joined the Royal Navy at 17.
He went on to join the Royal Marines in 1980, rising to the rank of Colonel before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2015.
Throughout his career, Captain Hutton has served in key roles, including leading the planning and execution of amphibious operations in Sierra Leone in 2000 and the amphibious assault on the Al Faw Peninsula in Iraq in 2003, as well as commanding a joint task group of four ships during Indo-Pacific Endeavour in 2018.
In 2011, he was seconded to the RAN, where he created a team tasked with developing a new amphibious capability for Australia.
Captain Hutton remembers the moment this opportunity came about.
“I was in Australia visiting my son around Easter 2011 and ended up catching up with some mates, one of whom was the now Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr, who was putting together a team to establish an Australian amphibious capability,” Captain Hutton said.
“A few days later another friend mentioned that the RAN was also looking for an amphibious expert to support the introduction of the new landing helicopter docks (LHDs).
“He didn’t have anyone with a good understanding of amphibious procedures and processes yet, so he asked me. I turned to my wife and asked her if she fancied living in Australia and her reply was 'yes, why not?' Six months later we arrived in Sydney.”
With the arrival of the landing ship dock HMAS Choules in 2011 and expected delivery of two Adelaide-class LHDs several years later, then-Colonel Hutton’s team worked with the Amphibious Branch of Army Headquarters' 1 Division to lay the foundations of and establish joint capability and doctrine of what became known as the Sea Series of exercises.
Those exercises are well known today as Sea Horizon, Sea Explorer and Sea Raider and they prepare the Australian Amphibious Force for large-scale littoral activities, such as Exercise Talisman Sabre and Indo-Pacific Endeavour deployments.
“As the years went by, we progressively made the exercises more tactical, at a pace that we could responsibly and safely conduct operations,” Captain Hutton said.
Captain Hutton said he was extremely proud of everything accomplished so far.
“I’ll stay on to nurture and support those new to the capability – to help us achieve bigger and better things,” Captain Hutton said.
“There’s still a lot to be done, but I’m completely confident in the next generation taking up what we’ve started and further improve Australia’s amphibious capabilities.”