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NEWS | July 2, 2024

Australian Naval Officer celebrates 20 years of service with friends, partners at RIMPAC 2024

By Nicole Dorrett, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet

Lt. Cmdr. Kimberley Healy celebrated the Fourth of July at Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with friends and colleagues from New Zealand and the U.S. She is part of the Sea Combat Command and the Australian Defence Force contingent of more than 300 Australians participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2024, the biennial international military exercise coordinated by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. This week, Healy also celebrates a personal milestone of 20 years of service in the Royal Australian Navy.

​“It’s great to see familiar faces and reconnect after years apart. In some ways it feels like no time at all has passed, we just picked up where we left off,” Healy said. It is Healy’s second RIMPAC. She was the Principal Warfare Officer (PWO) at RIMPAC 2016 serving aboard HMAS Ballarat. “Being on an international exercise on the day I celebrate my 20th anniversary in the Navy reaffirms my decision to join. I never thought I would be here 20 years later with still so much yet to experience. The old adage was, “Join the Navy, See the World,” and for me, this has absolutely rung true. I reflect on the last 20 years and look forward to seeing what the next have in store.”

The highlight of Healy's career thus far was serving as commanding officer of the Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Bathurst from 2021 to 2023, after initially serving on the newly commissioned ship as a midshipman in 2006. “When the Signal came out announcing me as CO Bathurst – that was a full circle moment for me. To have served on her as a Midshipman and then to return 15 years later as her Captain was pretty awesome.

“In 2021, it was post-COVID and we took the ship on deployment to Singapore. Two-thirds of the Ship’s company hadn’t been off the Australian station so it was really exciting to take the ship and her crew into international waters, conduct a crossing-the-line ceremony and pay a port visit to our friends and neighbours in Singapore.”

“Being CO of a ship is truly the time you get to cement your leadership and demonstrate all the training you’ve undertaken over many years. My crew was exceptional, and because of them my boat was consistently operationally ready and we achieved every mission assigned to us. I’ve enjoyed all my sea postings but being the CO is the best posting I’ve ever had so far.”

Healy has also served on HMA Ships Warramunga and Arunta and achieved her bridge warfare certificate on HMAS Adelaide in 2007. Shore postings include gunnery officer at HMAS Stirling, Defence Force Recruiting in Brisbane, and PWO exchange to New Zealand, where she was the operations officer on HMNZS Canterbury and the commissioning OPSO on the tanker HMNZS Aotearoa.

As you would expect in a career of 20 years, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but Healy said even during challenging periods there is always something to be learned. “I think you learn a lot from failure and mistakes equally as you do from the leaders who inspire you. It’s important to recognise that even our most junior members have a lot to contribute and providing them the space and opportunity to shine can positively impact the success of the mission.

​“We all come from different walks of life and we can learn from everyone. Diversity of thought is the creator of amazing things. Consider what you want your legacy to be and make sure you leave behind a positive experience.” Healy has been selected to undertake the Australian Command and Staff Course in 2025.