The Navy provided maritime forces that contributed to the ADF's capacity to defend Australia, contributed to regional security, supported global interests, shaped the strategic environment and protected national interests. Navy capabilities provide maritime patrol and response, interdiction and strategic strike, protection of shipping and offshore territories and resources, maritime intelligence collection and evaluation, hydrographic and oceanographic operations, combat search and rescue, and escort duties. Peacetime activities include maritime surveillance and response within the Australian exclusive economic zone in support of Coastwatch, distribution of humanitarian aid, and maritime search and rescue.
The Navy achieved routine and operational goals in 2002-03, including commitments to:
- Operation Slipper - ADF support to the war on terror;
- Operations Bastille/Falconer - pre-deployment to the Middle East area of operations and ADF participation in the coalition operation in Iraq;
- Operation Cranberry - ADF support to conduct surveillance in northern Australia and contribute to the civil surveillance program;
- Operation Mistral - support to Australian sovereign rights and fisheries law enforcement in the Southern Ocean;
- Operation Bel Isi II - ADF support to the regional Peace Monitoring Group monitoring the ceasefire in Bougainville; and
- Operation Relex II - ADF support to the whole-of-Government approach to deter unauthorised boat arrivals.
The Navy continued to be a significant participant in a number of diverse ongoing and short notice operations. The Navy maintained a high profile in the United States-led war on terror and undertook a wide variety of tasks during Operation Falconer, including patrol operations, maritime interdiction and boarding, naval gunfire support and mine clearance.