A/Lt Cdr James Lupini, RN
30 May 17
My visit to HMAS Canberra was a fitting way to end my trip to Australia. Not only was the visit of great personal interest to me (as First Lieutenant of HMS ALBION) it was also a great opportunity to speak to sailors at the sharp end of RAN operations to find out what their organisation’s values and standards mean to them and how they translate from the policy desk and the training establishment to the front line.
HMAS Canberra is the lead ship of the two Canberra class Amphibious Assault Ships, or Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD). Mainly constructed in Ferrol, Spain and weighing in at 27,000 tonnes, Canberra and her sister ship Adelaide are the largest ships ever to be commissioned into the RAN. The Commanding Officer, Capt Ash Papp, was justly proud of his ship but I sensed that he was equally, if not more, proud of the culture that he had helped to engender on board. In his Aims and Objectives Statement he wrote that, “We will be defined by our attitude and performance, the essence of Navy’s values and signature behaviours, and we will have conversations over what that means to each of us”. I was particularly interested in this idea about having conversations about values and standards. This is not just because I am a values geek but rather because I believe that it is only through talking about our values and standards that they become contextualised and meaningful. Otherwise, they are just posters on a bulkhead carrying abstract definitions.
I am writing this final entry for my Centenary Fellowship blog sat at my desk on board ALBION having arrived back at work today. I have not dared open my emails yet and thought that penning my final thoughts on my trip to Australia was a productive way to postpone the inevitable. My final duty (apart from actually writing an article for publication) is to express my deepest gratitude to all of those that have supported me. I am very conscious of the great privilege that I was granted when I was awarded the 2017 Centenary Fellowship and of the hard work, dedication and passion that goes into making this Fellowship an enduring opportunity. There are too many people for me to thank individually but there are three groups of people that I would like to recognise. Firstly, I would like to thank I would like to thank Ultra Electronics for their generous sponsorship of the Fellowship. Secondly, I would not have been able to complete my research without the support and effort of numerous individuals within the RAN and the wider Australian Defence Force. I was warmly welcomed by everyone that I came into contact with and found my hosts to be generous with their time, knowledge and experience. Finally, I need to thank the members and staff of the Naval Review. It is only through the dedication of this small band of enthusiastic volunteers that this research trip is possible. The Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for one lucky individual but, more widely, it encourages junior officers to explore and critically examine the organisation that they work for. Long may it continue!
HMAS Canberra with 5 MRH 90 aircraft on deck and her four Landing Craft deployed.
An internal cross-section of the Canberra class Amphibious Assault Ship.
(Both images taken from the RAN website.)
19 May 17
Sydney is the last stop on my short tour of Australia. I feel like I have seen, learned and experienced a great deal during my time here although, looking at a map of this vast country/continent, it is clear that I have experienced pitifully little. At least I have a good excuse to come back!
Sydney is the home of the Fleet Headquarters so it is here that I hoped I would be able to better understand the operational perspective of the RAN’s Values and Standards policy and contextualize the doctrinal concepts that I learned about in Canberra. However, the first person I interviewed was instrumental in filling in some keys gaps in my knowledge regarding the RN’s Values and Standards policy. Capt Jim Hutton retired from the Royal Marines to help the RAN generate their amphibious capability. Back in 2007 he was seconded to FOST to help conduct a review of the RN’s training and standards following the capture of CORNWALL’s boarding party in the NAG. He was partly responsible for generating the Core Maritime Skills intended to re-militarise sailors, provide through career leadership training and improve individual and collective capability.
My meeting with Capt Hutton reminded me just how much work I have to do back in the UK to understand our own Navy’s policies regarding Values and Standards. However, in the short term I had work to do filling in the few remaining gaps in my knowledge of the Australian system. I met with a group (an SO2, two WOs, a LH and an AB) who work at the coalface preaching New Generation Navy (NGN) to the masses. I was surprised to learn that the NGN team is currently made up of 22 Navy personnel drawn from across the entire rank structure. The junior ratings play an essential part in the process as they are far better placed to relate to and influence the hundreds of junior sailors that they present to each month.
Next week I will visit HMAS Canberra, the RAN’s impressive new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD). This will be my chance to ask sailors and officers of a front line unit what the RAN’s Values and Standards policies actually mean to them and to the delivery of operational capability.
HMAS Canberra alongside in Fleet Base East
Two Sydney icons - the Opera House and Harbour Bridge
The Chinese Garden of Friendship - a tranquil oasis in the heart of Sydney
12 May 17
I enjoyed a delightful journey from Canberra to Jervis Bay where HMAS Creswell is located. I wished that I had more spare capacity to devote to the stunning views as I drove down the steep and winding roads of Kangaroo Valley towards the coast but the hairpin bends demanded much of my attention. Just like its counterpoint in the UK, Creswell is in the middle of nowhere and takes ages to get to but once you are there you may find that you never want to leave. . It nestles in a national park which boasts of the whitest sands in the world and kangaroos are to be found at every turn.
I went to Creswell to see how new recruits were introduced to and trained in the RAN’s values and standards. I wanted to understand the delta between the civilian values that recruits arrived with and the naval ones that they left with after 20 weeks. I discovered that the RN and RAN have very similar processes and procedures for training recruits in their Values and Standards. I also noted the same glossy brochures, posters and signs which both organizations use to ‘brand’, advertise and communicate their Values and Standards. It is what comes next that marks what I believe is the biggest difference between our two navies. New Generation Navy (NGN) was about creating a values-based leadership culture as a defence against the problems of the past. The NGN programme, therefore, established a comprehensive structure of policies, initiatives and feedback mechanisms to support this cultural shift. This framework ensures that RAN values are subtly reinforced at every turn for individuals, teams and units.
After a few days in Jervis Bay I returned to Canberra. I had borrowed a sat-nav hoping to avoid the navigation problems that I had experienced on my first journey from Sydney. However, I have learned to exercise caution when the sat-nav offers a route including “unpaved roads”. As my hire car tried to shake itself apart on what can best be described as goat trails through the hills of New South Wales I was afflicted by visions of crashing and having to hike out of the wilderness in my dog robbers!
Safely back in Canberra I met with the Programme Director for NGN and the former Chief of Navy (CoN) who had instigated the scheme, VAdm Russ Crane. The highlight of this stage of my visit was an interview with VAdm Tim Barrett, the current CoN. I asked him about the future of NGN and he told me that, whilst NGN would remain an enduring programme, its focus needed to change. NGN had been conceived as a tool to stamp out poor behavior but now it had to be about encouraging positive behaviours. He even left me with as task. He asked me to feed back to his office on whether the change of focus for NGN that he had been preaching was filtering down to the front line. On arrival in Sydney, home of the Fleet Headquarters and Fleet Base East I will endeavour to find out.
An obligatory photograph of the Creswell kangaroos!
The white sands of Captain's Beach at Jervis Bay.
The view from the top of Pigeon House Mountain (so named by Capt James Cook).
Naval Review Fellow, Lt Cdr Jim Lupini, with the Chief of Navy, VAdm Tim Barrett.
2 May 17
Having spent a week in Canberra now, the scope of my research project is growing fast. At first this was reassuring as it meant that I would have plenty of material to talk about. Now its looming shadow is increasingly ominous. Every person I talk to mentions the names of two or three others whom it would be “useful to talk to”. Every question answered generates several others. ‘Twas always thus with research. The fear of the empty page has been replaced by the headache of the overflowing one. But I’m not complaining! Everyone whom I have met and spoke to about Values and Standards is engaging and passionate about the subject and keen to help me in any way they can.
Progress was slow at the beginning of last week. Monday was spent making introductions, finding my way around campus and explaining my research proposal to anyone who would listen in the hope that possessed some nugget of information or a contact that would be my lily pad to further knowledge. Tuesday was Anzac Day and whilst it may have been unproductive in terms of research, it was enlightening in terms of understanding the psyche of the Australian military and their relationship with their history and the wider population.
By Wednesday my background research was progressing well. I had discovered, however, that I could have done much of it in the UK. When the New Generation Navy programme was launched in 2009, the RAN made the conscious decision to publish all of the studies, reviews, route maps and plans on their publicly accessible website. I have been surprised by how much frank and honest information I have found about the problems that existed in the RAN and wider Defence before the process of cultural change was begun.
By the end of the week I had conducted a couple of key interviews. I spoke first to Lt Col Tamara Rouwhorst, CO of the Officer Training College. She had been heavily involved in the Australian Army’s change programme before assuming her appointment at the Defence Academy. We spoke about the challenges of taking a high brow change programme and translating it into something meaningful to the average soldier (i.e. making it ‘pongo-proof’!) as well as the importance of ensuring that your change programme addresses underlying behaviours rather than just treating the surface problems. My final appointment of the week was with RAdm James Goldrick (Rtd). As well as being a former Commandant of ADFA he held several command positions and is an author, naval historian and analyst of contemporary naval and maritime affairs. We spoke at length about the genesis of NGN, what it is intended to achieve and how close it is to achieving its goals.
Tomorrow I leave Canberra for HMAS Creswell, the RAN’s officer training academy. It will be nice to see the sea again whilst looking at how Values and Standards training is introduced to new recruits.
The National War Memorial.
Remembrance wall at the National War Memorial.
The National Naval Memorial.
NAVAL REVIEW FELLOW BLOG
25 Apr 17
There is much to reflect on at the end of my first week in Australia. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which I was able to travel to the other side of the world! My journey of around 24 hours with only one stop and supported by a steady supply of gin and tonic is in stark contrast to the ships of the First Fleet to arrive in Australia in 1787. Theirs was one of the greatest sea voyages in history, lasting 252 days, covering over 15,000 miles and without the loss of any ships!
What my air journey lacked in excitement was made up for by my road journey from Sydney to Canberra. After a few hours sleep I picked up a hire car for the 300 km journey to Australia’s capital city. Having turned down the offer of a sat-nav I got hopelessly lost leaving Sydney and again on arrival in Canberra. Thankfully Australians are calm and forgiving behind the wheel and my erratic lane changing and numerous U-turns went unremarked.
Arriving in Canberra late on a Friday afternoon I made my way (eventually) to the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) which would be my first stop-over during my research trip. ADFA is a tri-service military academy that provides military and academic education for junior Officers. Interestingly, the RAN insist that their Officer recruits attend a period of Phase 1 training at HMAS Creswell before starting at ADFA whilst the other two services do not. Exposure to a period of military training, culture and ethos can be seen in the military bearing of naval recruits at ADFA, initially giving them a clear advantage over their Army and Air Force peers.
My first weekend was spent recovering from jetlag (one problem that the First Fleet convicts and sailors did not have to deal with), and doing a little sightseeing around Canberra. Many of the people that I spoke to about travelling in Australia, including Australians, did not have many positive things to say about this city. It was described to me as a dull town, developed as the national capital to avoid a ‘bun fight’ between Sydney and Melbourne and designed by a man renowned for his “innovative use of reinforced concrete”. I’m not selling it, am I? However, I have found Canberra to be a wonderful city. It feels open and clean with green spaces never too far away. As well as being the centre of government for Australia it is also a centre of art, culture and history. I spent several hours meandering my way through the national botanical gardens and national museum as well as exploring the city fuelled by fantastic street food and ‘proper’ barista-style coffee.
In the forthcoming week I hope to hit the ground running. I will experience my first Anzac Day parade and try to work out how I am going to go about answering the question that I have set myself.
One of the many cultural experiences that this diverse city has to offer!
Sculpture of a Thorny Dragon in the National Botanical Gardens of Australia, Canberra.
Striking architecture of the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.
18 Apr 17
Welcome to the inaugural entry to the Naval Review Centenary Fellowship Blog 2017. I am writing this on the eve of my departure for Australia for 5 weeks to explore my research proposal, forge closer links between the RN and RAN and make a comparative study of the alcoholic beverages of our two great countries!
My research proposal is titled, Values and standards: Bedrock of naval culture and a modern strategic imperative or cynical marketing device? For the RN this means Courage, Commitment, Discipline, Respect for others, Integrity and Loyalty (C2DRIL) whilst the RAN have outlined their values and standards in their New Generation Navy (NGN) programme. I am keen to explore the factors that have driven both navies to articulate their values and standards, the benefits that this process is intended to bring as well as the challenges involved in achieving it. Ultimately, I hope to understand what is good about the different approaches adopted by both navies, what we can learn from each other and what does the future hold for our relationship with our values and standards.
I first became interested in the subject of values and standards when I worked for the Royal Naval Leadership Academy (RNLA) based at BRNC. Having spent much of my naval career in training and Executive roles I have regularly taught, encouraged and (hopefully) demonstrated the RN’s values and standards to trainees. I have also, on occasion, re-briefed and reprimanded those who have not lived up to them. However, whilst working at the RNLA I came to realize that despite my role as judge, jury and executioner of values and standards I had only the sketchiest idea of where they came from, what they meant and what they were intended to do. Hopefully my trip to Australia and the subsequent article will help me to answer some of these questions.
Finally I would like to thank all of those who have made this unique opportunity possible, in particular, the small but dedicated staff at the Naval Review and Ultra Electronics for their generous sponsorship. Watch this space over the coming weeks for re gular updates.