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Speech at the presentation of the 2004 Gloucester Cup and Meritorious Unit Citation to HMAS Kanimbla, Garden Island, Sydney.

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Rear Admiral Raydon Gates, Maritime Commander Australia Commander Stephen Woodall, Commanding Officer of HMAS Kanimbla Captain David McCourt, former Commanding Officer Current and former crew of HMAS Kanimbla Friends and families Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you very much for your warm and colourful welcome - especially from the guard and band.

I’m a great admirer of the Navy, and I’ve had quite a bit to do with the RAN over the years.

For example, I sailed in HMAS Diamantina in my early SAS days, I returned from Vietnam courtesy of HMAS Sydney, and I spent a fair amount of time training with Oberon Class submarines.

My favourite literary characters are Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey.

And our Sydney residence - just across the water - is Admiralty House, where a lovely painting of that master mariner, Captain James Cook, hangs in the entrance.

I’m therefore delighted to be here today and to take part in this fine RAN tradition - the awarding of the Gloucester Cup.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, I’m honoured to be continuing the Vice-Regal link to the award.

The Gloucester Cup was instituted in 1947 by the Duke of Gloucester when he was Governor-General of Australia.

This annual award - which acknowledges excellence against a range of performance criteria - continues to enjoy extremely high standing within the RAN and, indeed, the ADF.

The award criteria include:

• operational efficiency;

• husbandry and seamanship;

• supply and administration;

• officer and sailor training;

• divisional systems, morale and discipline; and

• equipment reliability, maintenance and resourcefulness.

Of course, everyone on board a ship has a key role to play in these areas, and you take individual and collective responsibility to meet these roles.

When a crew demonstrates teamwork, loyalty and dedication - as you have patently done in winning the Gloucester Cup - you do yourselves and the RAN proud.

The Cup has been won by many superb ships over the years, including Quadrant, Vampire, Sydney and Hobart.

And in recent times, winners have included Arunta, ANZAC, Success and Adelaide.

Today, HMAS Kanimbla joins their ranks for its tremendous efforts in 2003.

Kanimbla is being awarded the Gloucester Cup for sustained outstanding service in warlike operations.

Specifically, it’s been recognised for its work as the command ship for the multinational Maritime Interception Force Screen Commander during Operation Falconer.

The ship entered the Middle East Area of Operations on 14 February 2003.

It made a major contribution to the effectiveness of interception operations from 22 February to 18 March, and to combat operations against Iraq on 18 March.

HMAS Kanimbla operated as the most northern coalition warship.

Being the closest to the coast of Iraq, she was well within the range of shore-based missiles and was in the midst of potentially significant threat from mines.

Kanimbla’s defining moments included exceptional work during ship boardings in the Gulf, where she was described as “the lynchpin of maritime operations” by Vice Admiral Keating of the US Fifth Fleet.

Without exception, all tasks undertaken by HMAS Kanimbla and the Ship’s Company in 2003 were completed with outstanding dedication, professionalism and commitment.

Besides the prestigious Gloucester Cup, this high level of service also earned Kanimbla the Wormald Shield for fleet unit nuclear, biological and chemical defence proficiency, and you were also runner-up in the Supply Excellence Award.

In addition, and most honourably, HMAS Kanimbla today receives the Meritorious Unit Citation for its highly commendable service in the Middle East.

To all current and former crew members, let me emphasise that your winning of the Gloucester Cup, and the awarding of the Citation, are achievements of the highest order.

The Gloucester Cup was earned against very strong competition, especially from second-placed HMAS Darwin.

Your service in peace and warlike operations are consistent with the finest traditions of the RAN and the ADF.

You have served your country well - in a period of high operational tempo - and you have earned the respect and gratitude of a great many Australians.

I warmly congratulate everyone associated with HMAS Kanimbla - including, very importantly, the families who support you - and I wish you all the very best for the future.

It’s now my great pleasure to present the Gloucester Cup and the Meritorious Unit Citation to Commander Stephen Woodall, the Commanding Officer of HMAS Kanimbla.

Thank you.