PM’s hard word as warship enters service

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has struck a warlike stance as he welcomed the Royal Australian Navy’s newest and most advanced ship into commission.


The commander and crew of the HMAS Hobart missile destroyer assumed control of the ship amid military fanfare in Sydney on Saturday.

The ships 180-strong crew and guard marched in with commanding officer Captain John Stavridis as the naval band played.

Crew member and Leading Seaman David Braendler, who shares his birthday with the new ship, was pulled in front of the parade while the crowd sang happy birthday.

The official party, including Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, Defence Minister Marise Payne and the Governor of NSW David Hurley all paid tribute to the navy’s latest ship.

But the Prime Minister remained focused on Hobart’s combative and serious future.

He said Australia was a trading nation that had benefited from the global rules-based order – but that was increasingly under threat.

“The strategic environment in our region is more uncertain than it has been for many years,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Returning ISIL fighters have taken a foothold in the Southern Philippines, overrunning the city of Marawi.”

“We must not allow Marawi to become the Raqqa of South East Asia.”

Further north, he continued, North Korea’s rogue leader Kim Jong Un was threatening to up-end global stability.

“The ratcheting up of economic sanctions by the global community, including China, is our best prospect for curbing North Korea’s reckless conduct.”

He said the Hobart, and the new ships that would follow it into commission, would be required to maintain peace and advance Australia’s interests in the face of South East Asia’s challenges.

The Hobart class will provide air defence for the naval fleet and land forces in coastal areas.

It is equipped with missiles that can travel more than 150 kilometres and torpedoes, as well as long range naval guns and defence systems.

The ship is the third in the navy to bear the Hobart name. The first was commissioned in 1938 and served in World War II.

It was hit by a Japanese torpedo and 13 crew died but the ship limped home.

It was decommissioned in 1947 and sold for scrap to a Japanese firm in 1962.

Hobart II was commissioned in 1965 and served in the Vietnam War, where it was hit by three missiles – friendly fire from a United States jet.

Though two crew lost their lives, the ship survived and was decommissioned in 2000, and sunk as a dive wreck in South Australia.