Semaphore: A Message from the Director

Semaphore Issue 1, 2002
Semaphore Issue 1, 2002

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The Semaphore series is planned as publication with a dual purpose. It is designed to raise maritime issues of immediate interest to the RAN, the ADF, Australia and the region and then to, hopefully, create debate within both the naval community and in the Defence Organisation.

Despite being a maritime nation, the all encompassing role that the sea and maritime power has played and will play in the development of Australia and its safety and security is generally not well understood. This new publication series is designed to help rectify this.

Individuals who wish to raise an issue in Semaphore are invited to contact staff at the Sea Power Centre with regard to their contribution.

This inaugural issue highlights the charter of the Sea Power Centre and the work that has been undertaken in the past, and therefore some of the significant achievements of past directors, as well as drawing attention to future events and activities of the current staff.

Sea Power Centre - who are we and what do we do?


In 1990 VADM Mike Hudson, the then Chief of Naval Staff, directed the creation of an organisation to promote the study, discussion and awareness of maritime issues and strategy within the RAN and the defence and civil communities at large. The Maritime Strategic Studies Project was commenced in April 1990, under the directorship of CDRE Sam Bateman.

In mid-1991 this project evolved into the Maritime Studies Program. In January 2000 the Maritime Studies Program became a directorate of the Navy Strategic Policy and Futures Branch in Navy Headquarters and in February 2000 it was renamed the Sea Power Centre (SPC).

Currently located at RAAF Base Fairbairn in Canberra, the SPC is directed by CAPT Richard Menhinick, CSC, RAN. Other directors within the SPC are the Director of Maritime Studies, CMDR Barry Snushall, RAN who is also the RAN Visiting Military Fellow at the Centre for Maritime Policy, University of Wollongong, and the Director of Naval Historical Studies, Dr David Stevens located in Campbell Park, Canberra.

The charter of the SPC is:

  • to promote awareness, among members of the RAN and wider Defence community, of maritime strategy, maritime issues and the role maritime forces play in the security of national interests; and
  • to contribute to the development of public awareness of the need for sea power in the defence of Australia and her sovereign interests.

In fulfilling the aims of the charter the SPC conducts and sponsors briefings, conferences, seminars, lectures and study periods on maritime affairs, strategy and naval history. It also conducts research and publishes papers on maritime issues relevant to the development of maritime strategy, doctrine and naval history in Australia.

In addition the SPC has a responsibility to contribute to the education of junior naval officers in maritime affairs, strategy and naval history.

Conferences, Seminars, and Lectures


The SPC conducts one major international conference each year, with conferences on naval history alternating with conferences on contemporary naval or maritime issues. In January this year the SPC conducted The Sea Power Conference in conjunction with the Pacific 2002 International Maritime Exhibition.

In 2001 the SPC, in conjunction with the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, conducted the second King-Hall Naval History conference, The Face of Naval Battle. These conferences featured a number of renowned naval and military historians and strategists. The third in the series of King-Hall Conferences will be conducted in July 2003.

In addition to conferences the SPC conducts a variety of workshops seminars, and lectures. The latest in the seminar series (The Synnot Lectures) will occur in November this year and will be focussed on Maritime Strategy with Norman Friedman as the keynote speaker. This seminar will be co-sponsored by the Centre for Maritime Policy at the University of Wollongong.

The SPC also runs the RAN Maritime Studies Period once or twice a year dependent upon requirement. This two-day course will be conducted this year at RAAF FAIRBAIRN for junior Defence and Public Service officers and has been developed to increase the awareness of maritime issues of particular importance to Australia and the region. Expert presenters are drawn from a wide range of academic, defence, public service and industry backgrounds. The study period attracts students from many of Australia’s regional neighbours, with naval officers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea having attended past courses.

SPC staff provide lectures and presentations on maritime strategy, maritime affairs and naval history to a wide range of organisations such as the Australian Command & Staff College, RAAF Squadron Leaders Course, elements of the RAN Leadership and Management Professional Development Continuum and the Australian National University. The SPC also has regular lecture commitments at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College and the Indonesian Navy Staff College.



To promote awareness of maritime issues and maritime strategy, the SPC undertakes a significant publishing program and sponsors two series of publications entitled Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs and SPC Working Papers. The Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs series is used to publish the proceedings of SPC conferences and seminars in addition to the publication of works by other authors which are relevant to the aims of the SPC. The Working Papers series is designed to foster debate and discussion on maritime issues relevant to the RAN, the ADF, Australia and the region.

One of the most significant SPC publications is Australian Maritime Doctrine (AMD), published in 2000. It is the RAN’s keystone doctrine, describing what the RAN contributes to Australia’s national security and how it does it. AMD explains in a clear and straightforward manner the key concepts and themes of maritime power in an Australian context. It is a fundamental resource for training, and equally a key element in our work to raise the public profile of Australian maritime issues.

The most recent publication is the RAN Volume of the ADF Centenary History Project. This book, edited by Dr David Stevens, provides an outstanding history of the RAN and a fascinating study of the strategic, political, cultural and economic circumstances that shaped its development.

Maritime Studies Period 7 and 8 November 2002

Theme: Protecting Our Maritime Resources
Keynote speaker: Norman Friedman

King-Hall Naval History Conference 24 and 25 July 2003

Theme: The Navy & The Nation
Keynote speakers: Geoffrey Till
George Baer

Pacific 2004 Conference 3-5 February 2004

Theme: Positioning Navies for the Future