On 9 December, just prior to departing the wharf on patrol, HMAS Huon’s then Lieutenant Commander Richard Caton received a Silver Australian Defence Force Commendation for his achievements and commitment to duty during Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 and was promoted to Commander.
Commander Northern Command, Commodore Brenton Smyth, and Captain Patrol Boats, Captain Bryan Parker, boarded the vessel to award the Commendation.
Commander Caton was awarded a Silver Commendation from the Deputy Chief of Joint Operations for his “outstanding devotion to duty and delivering outstanding operational results as Chief of Staff to Commander Joint Task Force 663 during the planning and conduct of Operation RENDER SAFE 2013, the Australian led regional assistance operation focused on the clearing of World War Two remnants of war from the South West Pacific.”
Commodore Smyth echoed the comments made in the commendation, noting Commander Caton’s extensive understanding of the region, knowledge of the South Pacific geopolitical and cultural sensitivities, and ability to engage fully at all level of government, helped maximise the impact of operations across Central Provence, Solomon Islands during the operational deployment.
Commodore Smyth said:
Not only did Operation RENDER SAFE 2013 reduce the threat from explosive hazards across areas on Central Provence Solomon Islands, it also enhanced the reputation of the Australian Defence Force and its allied partners across the South Pacific region.
Commander Caton said that his task was facilitated by the outstanding efforts of Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving personnel, as well as Explosive Ordance Device qualified personnel from New Zealand, USA, Canada and the Solomon Islands assigned to the operation.
At the end of the operation more than 12,000 individual items of unexploded ordnance totalling over 20,000kg were cleared from waterways, farms, gardens and residential areas in the Solomon Islands. In addition, a number of schools, a women’s shelter and an orphanage had been rebuilt as part of the community outreach during the operation.
He also noted that the clear lower deck had been probably the most embarrassing one he had been to.
Huon departed on patrol, which would include a port visit to Dili, East Timor. the vessel will be operating in support of Operation RESOLUTE until February 2015.
Press release, Image: Australian Navy