A Balgownie man has been chosen to command Australia's newest warship HMAS Sydney when it is commissioned in 2020.
Commander Andrew Hough said the new HMAS Sydney is a $3 billion Hobart Class Destroyer boasting the latest technology.
"They are essentially an Area Air Defence Ship. I am delighted to be entrusted with the privilege of commanding such an incredible warship," he said.
"It is the most lethal ship Australia has ever owned. It is the most technologically up to date. It has the best radars, best sensors and best missiles that we have ever had.
"She will be the fifth HMAS Sydney. The name has an extremely proud history in the Australian Navy".
Commander Hough said when he joined the Royal Australian Navy 24 years ago he dreamed of being given the chance to command a ship one day and this is the realisation of that career goal being fulfilled.
"I have been wandering around the last month with a big smile on my face. To get command of a ship is a privilege. You get an enormous amount of technology and 180 Australians who you are responsible for. And you get to go off and do interesting things which make a difference in the real world. It does not get better than this".
Commander Hough said the new destroyers are double the size of ships like the HMAS Melbourne which are about 4000 tonnes.
"The new destroyer is about 7000 tonnes. They are a much bigger ship and a much more capable ship".
Commander Hough was born in Wagga Wagga but moved to Wollongong when his father Michael Hough got a job at the University of Wollongong in the early 1980's. He attended Pleasant Heights Primary and then The Illawarra Grammar School..
"I moved here when I was five years old. Dad was a Lieutenant Colonel in what is now the Army Reserve. I had a very good look at what he did and decided to join the Navy.through the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1995.
"From about 10 years old I was struck by the sea and the concept of it. The more I read about the Navy the more I thought it would be a fit for my personality".
He started his professional training in 1998 before proceeding onto a range of postings such as a junior Maritime Warfare Officer from 1999-2004, including patrol boat service, an exchange posting with the Royal Canadian Navy, and qualifying as a Fighter Controller. He served in Adelaide Class Frigates, deploying to the Middle East on two occasions, including service in the Iraq War 2003, and subsequently served as a Fighter Control Instructor with the Royal Australian Air Force. He qualified as a Principal Warfare Officer in 2005, and further specialised as an Air Warfare Officer.
He served in Anzac Class Frigates, on exchange with the Royal Navy on promotion to Lieutenant Commander, and returned to Australia as the Fleet Direction Officer. That period included a third operational deployment to the Middle East, exercises in Hawaii and South East Asia, a deployment to the Caribbean for counter-narcotics and hurricane relief operations and a year training ships in Air Warfare.
Lieutenant Commander Hough was selected as executive officer of the frigate HMAS Melbourne in 2012, and deployed on two further occasions to the Middle East. HMAS Melbourne enjoyed considerable success in counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations. Upon his return he took long service leave and went on a motorcycle tour of the United States with his wife Kate Hough.
"We actually learned to ride motorbikes to do that trip. We rode 29,000 kilometres around America in a big figure eight finishing with Route 66. It was 123 days on the road and we essentially just took a break and did something awesome. I came back very refreshed and motivated and ready to start the next stage of my career. I could not have done any of the sea time I have done during the later part of my career without a very very supportive wife."
Following the Australian Command and Staff Course in Canberra in 2015 he served at the strategic level of Navy as the Personal Staff Officer to the Deputy Chief of Navy, and then in Navy Workforce Management.
"It is an extremely hi-tech system. It is the one that the US Navy uses as part of the Carrier Battle Group," he said.
"My current role involves training all the recruits for the Navy so I am very focused on my current job. At the moment I have 90 staff, 430 recruits and I train around 1500 recruits a year.
"Anyone who joins the Navy as a sailor comes to Recruit School and they do an 11 week course which is setting them up to be sailors and teaching them them the basics".
Commander Hough said the great thing about a career in the Navy is the diversity.
"It might look like I have done the same job for the last 24 years. But the way the Navy works is that you are continually advancing," he said.
"It almost feels like the moment you get comfortable with your job it is time to stop doing it, up-skill and go and do a job you don't know how to do.
"Over the course of my career I have probably done seven or eight different roles in the Navy. I have been able to build on what I learnt before and stretch myself. And that is what I really enjoy.
"If you want an ordinary career you never stick your hand up. But if you want an extraordinary career you stick your hand up for everything".
Commander Hough said one thing the defence forces are very good at doing is making sure people have the training to be able to do each job they are assigned to.
"The Navy really prepares you well and you gain confidence quickly in each new role," he said.
Navy personnel get to work with the best proven technology and are skilled in teamwork which is seen as a great advantage.
Commander Hough encourages others to consider joining the Navy for a career. In terms of personnel it is now the biggest it has been since 1996 and will need to keep growing.
"The Navy is growing and it is a wonderful opportunity to join. We are building new ships at a greater rate and they are better than they have ever been," he said.
Asked if Wollongong would get to see HMAS Sydney sail into Port Kembla under his command Commander Hough didn't know but said "wouldn't that be wonderful".
"I certainly couldn't promise that but one of the things I will very definitely be doing is every time we go past Wollongong we will be coming in a little closer to the coast".
Commander Hough said he would never forget the childhood he had growing up in Wollongong.
He looks back on it as serving him well in preparing him for the career and achievements he has enjoyed.
"You could climb Mount Keira, you could join Scouts and you could have an active and outdoor life which set me up very well for my initial training. Which in turn set me up very well for my future career," he said..
"What the Officer Selection Board look for is whether you can demonstrate a potential for leadership.
"The Scouting movement in particular focuses on developing leadership attributes in young people. So I was able to use my Scouting experience to demonstrate my leadership potential.
"Even something as simple as "Be Prepared" is a pretty good way to live your life in the military.
"If you are a hard worker with motivation in the Navy there are very few limits in what you can do".
Training and education:
- Commander Hough holds a Master of Arts in Military History from UNSW and a Masters of Military and Defence Studies (Art of War) from ANU.
- He was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service on the Australia Day Honours List 2015 for his performance as executive officer HMAS Melbourne.
- His professional awards include the RSL Sword for Dux of Junior Warfare Officer training in 1999, Dux of his Fighter Controller course in 2001, the Sydney-Emden Prize and Sword of Excellence for Dux of PWO training in 2005, the St Barbara Association prize for Dux of PWO (A) training in 2007, the BAE Systems praffize for Dux of Royal Navy Air Warfare Training in 2009, and the Chief of Navy Prize for top Navy student on Staff Course in 2015.
HMAS Sydney facts
- Class - Hobart Class
- Type - Destroyer, Guided Missile (DDG)
- Role - Air Defence, Surface Warfare, Surveillance, Undersea Warfare
- Pennant - D42
- Motto - Thorough and Ready
- Builder - Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance
- Displacement -7000 tonnes
- Length - 146.7 metres
- Beam - 18.6 metres
- Draught - 7.2 metres
- Speed - 28 knots (top speed)
- Range - 4500 nautical miles (18 knots)
- Crew - 180
Details and pictures of HMAS Sydney http://www.navy.gov.au/nuship-sydney-v
Lead ship of the class HMAS Hobart http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-hobart-iii
- Australia Day 2015: Lieutenant Commander Andrew Hough awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service
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- Many families turn out in Wollongong to see the crew of HMAS Wollongong being granted Freedom of Entry to the city: Gallery
- Diving into the past
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