Hi, I’m Commander Andy Schroder, Navy fellow at the Australian War Memorial.
I’ve been working with the Australian War Memorial to create this online exhibition which commemorates Navy personnel through an explanation of why Australia has a Navy and what the Navy does.
One of the best explanations of what the Navy does is given by what is referred to as Booth’s Span of Maritime Tasks, or Booth’s Triangle. With each side of the triangle representing one of the three primary tasks undertaken by the Navy.
Constabulary tasks are about policing and security, enforcing Australian and international law in Australian waters. The exhibition has some fantastic stories about the work done by Australia’s patrol boats in our waters to the North including real-time footage of the rescue of asylum seekers after their boat smashed onto the cliff faces of Christmas Island. With sailors from HMAS Pirie risking their own lives to ensure the safety of others.
Diplomatic tasks are those in which the Navy is employed in support of foreign policy. In recent times this has included Operation Tonga Assist where the Navy assisted Tonga’s rebuilding effort after the eruption of an underwater volcano which caused a tsunami and devastating ashfall.
Military tasks are about combat operations at and from the sea. This exhibition has a strong focus on the military tasks of our navies and it is this area that it is plain to see that, since the days of sail and steam through until today, while the equipment used to achieve these tasks has evolved the tasks have not. As an example we can track the evolution of naval gunfire support to troops ashore from the New Zealand Wars of 1860 to HMAS ANZAC in 2003 providing critical naval gunfire support on the Al Faw Peninsula in support of the British Royal Marines.
This exhibition commemorates Navy people through their own stories. Stories that show how the Navy has evolved over more than a century. When you explore this exhibition I hope you’ll consider how what we do as a Navy, the roles we play nationally and internationally, and the tasks we undertake, have remained consistent throughout our navy’s history.