It’s the little ship that could.
As a mine hunter, the HMAS Huon is considered a small ship because it only has 49 crew members.
But it’s proved size doesn’t matter after becoming the first small vessel to receive the Royal Australian Navy’s most prestigious award for outstanding performance, the Gloucester Cup.
The award is presented by a panel of the navy’s senior leaders to the crew that excels in operations, safety, seamanship, reliability and training.
For Lieutenant Commander Jace Hutchison, seeing his crew’s hard work acknowledged was reward enough.
“It was quite a tough year for the crew, who spent a lot of time away from home,” he told AAP.
“[That was] always something in the back of their mind.”
“This award is really good recognition of that fact.”
Deployments to south-east Asia, northern Australia and the International Fleet Review meant some sailors had to sacrifice personal commitments for the call of duty, he said.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove presented the cup to Lt Cmdr Hutchison after arriving at Sydney’s Garden Island naval base on the admiral’s barge.
A retired army general himself, Sir Peter said it was a “great thrill” to return to the site as the Queen’s representative.
Australia’s 26th governor-general reminisced about past visits to the site where he’d stood on ships ready to be deployed.
“The mood of the moment [then] was optimism tinged with anxiety,” he recalled.
“Today is a different moment altogether … a moment of rejoicing, tinged with professional pride.”
As for Lt Cmdr Hutchison, the prize is more than an addition to the trophy cabinet, it’s personal.
His grandfather served in the navy during the Korean War and Lt Cmdr Hutchison says he would’ve got a kick out of Wednesday’s ceremony.
“I think he would be proud.”