Commissioning Ceremony of HMAS Moreton
It is with great pleasure that I join you today for the Commissioning Ceremony of HMAS Moreton, which restores to Brisbane the Shore Establishment located on this river for over fifty years until the mid-1990s.
This did not mean, of course, that Brisbane and South East Queensland was without a naval presence in the interim. But, importantly for both the Navy and the people of Queensland, this Establishment serves as a highly visible and tangible symbol of the Royal Australian Navy’s presence in this region.
That naval presence began when the then Colony of Queensland acquired two vessels, the Gayundah and the Paluma, in the mid 1880s.
Australian men and women have since served, first in the colonial navy, and then the RAN, at several locations on or near the Brisbane River.
Many of those RAN personnel saw active service. The timing of this commissioning ceremony, in the midst of centenaries associated with World War One, reminds us that it was an Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force that fired the first shots in anger in that conflict.
That was in September 1914, during an action to capture a radio base in what was then German New Guinea – not that far from Queensland. The action resulted in Australia’s first loss of life in combat, and one of the casualties was a Naval Reservist.
HMAS Moreton was established during another global conflict, having been first commissioned in 1942, the same year as the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which Australian warships played a distinguished part in action against the Japanese about 1000 km from the north Queensland coast. That’s the distance from Brisbane to Sydney.
We recognise the courage of those who went into battle to defend our people, coasts and waters, and we remember, with sadness but enormous gratitude, the sacrifice of those who did not return.
The Navy’s support for the people of Queensland extends beyond defending our shores. To give but one outstanding example, the Navy’s assistance following the disastrous 2011 floods earned the deep gratitude of the people of this State.
For all of these reasons, and more, Queenslanders are delighted to see HMAS Moreton back in Brisbane.
The Royal Australian Navy is clearly pleased to be back, as demonstrated by the substantial Commissioning Ceremony we are witnessing – from the inspection of the well-turned out Guard to the Welcome to Country, prayers, blessing, and the moving naval hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save.
And the taking up by HMAS Moreton of a substantial number of roles and responsibilities in this region is certainly worth celebrating.
HMAS Moreton brings under its umbrella Navy personnel working in a number of other defence establishments in Brisbane, on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, and in Toowoomba. This Shore Establishment will also, in its own right, provide logistics support and manage visits to Brisbane by naval vessels.
Without wishing to steal the Chief of Navy’s thunder, I state with confidence that Queenslanders will feel pride and reassurance at the sight of the Australian White Ensign flying again beside the Brisbane River, along with the HMAS Moreton’s commissioning pennant, which has, for centuries, been the mark of a fighting ship. I am also very pleased they will fly alongside the Governor’s Standard – signalling the presence of a very proud vice-regal representative.
As Governor, and on behalf of all Queenslanders, I warmly congratulate the Royal Australian Navy on the commissioning of HMAS Moreton.
I wish its new commanding officer, its personnel, and their successors, a long and successful future in “flying the flag” for the Navy from the banks of the Brisbane River.
Or, to put it another way: welcome back, and welcome home!