Vice Admiral R.Interview J. Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy.

The Royal Australian Navy is part of a joint force, and thus the RAN’s role has to be seen against a backdrop - which not only encompasses the Australian Defence Force but also the whole of the government’s approach to security, states RAN Chief VAdm Ray Griggs.

6th May 2013

 Vice Admiral R.J. Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy.

Byline: Dzirhan Mahadzir / Langkawi

The Royal Australian Navy is part of a joint force, and thus the RAN’s role has to be seen against a backdrop - which not only encompasses the Australian Defence Force but also the whole of the government’s approach to security, states RAN Chief VAdm Ray Griggs.
“Clearly our primary role and mission is to defend Australia and its interests which are articulated in the Defence White Paper”. he added: “but looking through a maritime lense, there are two big things for the RAN, one is to ensure we contribute to a stable region starting from close to Australia in the South Pacific to Papua New Guinea and East Timor, and more broadly the South East Asian region. The other one, which is absolutely critical for the RAN is protecting our ability to trade, it’s a critical mission for all navies. For Australia, protection of such is even more important as 96-97% of Australia’s trade comes by sea along with much of its wealth generated through a free and open global maritime trading system”.
The RAN Chief added that protecting the ability to trade also included a local dimension in the form of protection ports, vital infrastructures and offshore oil and gas installations and also a broader dimension in the form of the RAN’s contribution to the maintenance of good order in the global commons. “One of the critical things there is that no single navy can do this, so it is a collaborative and cooperative effort to keep our global maritime trading system functioning in a way that benefits all of us” he said.
Ensuring that people understand the link between a stable, free and safe global maritime trading environment to national prosperity has been a key narrative that the RAN Chief has been pushing in the last 12 months, “The single biggest issue in maritime security is ensuring we have a free and functional global maritime trading system, if you have that, everyone’s prosperity is enhanced”.
In regard to the RAN’s force structure, VAdm Griggs stated that the 2009 White Paper had laid out a very useful maritime force structure for the challenges that Australia faces. This allows the RAN to contribute as part of the broader picture, “obviously we’ve had some budgetary challenges over the last couple of years, like everyone else, which has probably reduced our ability to execute Force 2030 as it was in the strict timeframes envisaged. The core and essence of that force remains on track” he said citing the coming entry of the new LHDs, Air Warfare Destroyers and new helicopters as part of that force structure. “There are lots of the elements of that force that are starting to come into play and it’s a sound force structure for the future and we’ll keep on delivering to that ultimate goal”.
On the LHDs, the RAN Chief said that the first of the LHDs is expected to undergo sea trials at the end of this year with delivery to the RAN by the first quarter of next year adding “it gives us the ability to operate across the spectrum. People tend to use the term power projection in a hard sense, forgetting that there is a spectrum of power projection where Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief is one end of it while combat forces are at the other end, the LHD gives us the ability to operate right across that spectrum”.
VAdm Griggs stated that while the RAN is no stranger to air warfare capabilities, there will be a fair amount of work expected to be done in familiarization of the Aegis and Spy systems of the Air Warfare Destroyers, “We’ve got a lot of work to ensure that we fully exploit those capabilities”.
On the RAN’s Collins class submarines, VAdm Griggs stated, “We’ve had the Coles Review which gave us a good basis to move forward, we know that they are excellent boats but we also know they are unreliable, we’ve made no secret about that and we’re working hard to improve that reliability, we have a good and sensible plan out of the Coles review to take us forward”. On Australia’s discussions with Japan on submarines, “I think there’s been a bit of misrepresentation about the discussion with Japan, two of the four options for a future submarine that we’re looking at are bigger boats. There are not many large conventional submarine operators in the world and we’re one, Japan another and there’s not many others who operate above the 3,000 ton mark, so clearly we have an interest in sharing any knowledge that we can and it’s been misrepresented that we’d like to buy a Soryu class submarine while what we are trying to do is have a discussion as like operators of large conventional submarines”.
The RAN Chief stated that the RAN was behind the curve in regard to maritime UAVs, stating that while high end UAVs would be operated by the RAAF, the RAN needs to work upon the usage of small UAVs, “Both the Army and Air Force have become very familiar with smaller UAVs through Afghanistan and I think we’re a little behind, we need to catch up with that, we’ve done a couple of trials but we’re not as heavily into that as I think we should be, we need to get more into it as it’s a very important capability” he said.


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