Naval and maritime experts from the across the globe gathered in Sydney from November 7 to 9 for the Indo-Pacific 2023 International Maritime Exposition, the largest conference of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
CAPTION: Members from Australia’s Federation Guard prepare for a ceremonial sunset during the Sea Power Conference closing ceremony in Sydney. Story by Lieutenant Commander Ben Willee. Photos by Able Seaman Lucinda Allanson.
The exposition, which encompassed the RAN’s Indo-Pacific Sea Power Conference, drew a record number of more than 800 Defence industry participants, joined by about 40 international navy delegations.
This year’s conference theme, ‘Fleet 2035: Sea Power and the Future of Maritime Warfare’, encouraged critical thinking about the role of sea power in Australia’s national security and prosperity as part of an integrated ADF.
Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell delivered the keynote address and highlighted the importance of the maritime domain in the context of both enduring and emerging environmental circumstances.
“The oceans are our life blood. The sea shapes us, feeds us, constrains us and plays a crucial role in regulating our planet’s climate and weather. It is absolutely central to economic prosperity and national security,” General Campbell said.
“The future of sea power lies not only in crewed surface and sub-surface vessels, but also in uncrewed and autonomous systems.
“Australia is already well along the path of developing its own uncrewed sea power capabilities through the Ghost Shark autonomous underwater vehicle program.”
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond reinforced that Australia’s history is bound to the sea.
“Our nation’s history is bound to the sea, just as we are all connected to the sea and our fates are in turn, bound by the sea,” Vice Admiral Hammond said.
“The unrivalled and unprecedented collection of more than 800 industry participants has given us a window into the future of maritime warfare, including uncrewed systems, new lethal technology and new thinking about warfare under the sea, on the sea and in the air above.”
For the first time, the event included an exciting series of youth-oriented events under the banner of NavyLifeX23.
More than 500 students from 31 high schools previewed life in the Navy and gained exposure to the many and varied career options.
Attending a Sea Power Conference for the first time, Midshipman Lily Anderson said it was an insightful experience.
“I have learned some fascinating things about Navy capability and future warfare, not to mention getting to meet new and diverse people with interesting perspectives,” Midshipman Anderson said.
The vibrant and interactive events included more than 30 Navy exhibits, including virtual-reality ship and submarine tours, flight simulators, video games, cooking demonstrations, fitness challenges and more.
Indo-Pacific 2023 broke records set in 2022, with a sold-out exhibition floor that was 13 per cent larger than the previous conference.
Vice Admiral Hammond heralded the event a critical and successful opportunity.
“Overall, this conference enabled Navy to sharpen its focus in preparation for the Government response to the Defence Strategic Review, and draw on the thinking and collaboration between our international partners, Defence industry, Government and academia,” Vice Admiral Hammond said.
CAPTION: Able Seaman Rohan Baldwin-Core with a student from the Navy Life Experience program.