Newest senior sailor excited about the future

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mike Noonan presents Warrant Officer Deb Butterworth with her promotion certificate as the newly appointed WO-N during a ceremony at Russell Offices. Photo: Leading Seaman James McDougall

Newest senior sailor excited about the future

“Wanting to be challenged and seeking adventure” were the main reasons a young woman from Lilydale in Victoria decided to join the Royal Australian Navy back in 1989.

Roll forward 30 years, and with many achievements and experiences to her credit, Warrant Officer of the Navy (WO-N) Deb Butterworth has assumed the role as Navy’s most senior enlisted adviser to the Chief of Navy, joining his senior leadership group.

“I am really excited to take up this significant role at a time where growing our Navy workforce to meet our future capabilities is our highest priority,” WO-N Butterworth said.

“My ideas and contributions will be informed by close connections to the needs and wants of our sailors.

“I have a responsibility to provide authentic, transparent communications.

“Our continued success is a collaborative one, where together we continue to execute the plans and initiatives important to our Navy’s future successes.

“I believe the defining character of our Navy’s ability to fight and win at sea is the quality of our sailors: their warfighting spirit, conviction and ability.”

Having seen many changes since she first joined the Navy, WO-N Butterworth said that as a learning organisation, Navy must continue to grow and evolve, with technology being the biggest and most constant factor.

“Changes in technology allows us to perform tasks differently, but what hasn’t changed is that we are stewards of standards in our organisation – what we do has a strategic effect,” WO-N Butterworth said.

“Our workforce is educated, well trained and has transferable skills – reflective of all the diversity that our Australian society offers.

“Communication is key if we are to retain these amazing members, asking them to be prepared to think differently.”

In a ceremony at Russell Offices, Canberra, on November 22, the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, applauded her career milestones to date, while welcoming WO-N Butterworth to the role.

“It is an exciting time to welcome Deb into the role of Warrant Officer of the Navy, as we continue to grow in a dynamic and evolving environment,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Deb’s significant experience will provide me, my senior leadership team and our workforce with innovative ideas, a fresh perspective and the passion to support our people as we work to achieve our 2022 headmark.”

He also thanked the outgoing WO-N, Warrant Officer Gary Wight, for his tireless efforts and dedication.

“Gary has made an exceptional contribution to the Navy as Warrant Officer of the Navy, and I thank him for his leadership over the last three years,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“His tireless efforts have contributed to Navy’s tremendous retention record.

“He has made a positive impact on our culture, and because of his investment in our people at all levels, our sailors are feeling more valued and engaged within the organisation.

“I wish Gary and his family every success for the future.”

WO-N Butterworth is the first female appointed to the role and becomes the ninth WO-N since the inception of the role in 1993.

Read WO-N Butterworth’s biography at

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