7 July, 2024

New boss takes helm

AFTER two years of service to the Cairns community, Commander Alfonso Santos has handed the HMAS Cairns base to seasoned officer Andrew Thorpe.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

HMAS Cairns new commanding officer Andrew Thorpe (left) and exiting commander Alfonso Santos. Picture: Isabella Guzman Gonzalez
HMAS Cairns new commanding officer Andrew Thorpe (left) and exiting commander Alfonso Santos. Picture: Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Well-known and respected in the community, Commander Santos was a key figure during the Cyclone Jasper crisis last year.

He bid farewell to the team at HMAS Cairns in a touching ceremony on Friday, June 28, where he officially handed over the position to new Commander Andrew Thorpe as he prepares for a new appointment within the navy.

Cmdr Santos said he was proud of the growth and community engagement during his tenure and was looking forward to seeing HMAS Cairns progress under Commander Thorpe.

“Today (Friday) is an important ceremonial occasion for us to hand over HMAS Cairns and the associated command. Commander Andrew Thorpe will take over me and assume the duties as a commanding officer,” he said.

“It’s been a great experience. Over the last two years and a half I’ve been in command of this place, we’ve seen it grow but, more importantly, we’ve seen a large amount of allied and partner nations coming to NQ all the way from Townsville to the Torres Strait, as we continue to increase the importance of what Cairns means to the nation.

“The base is running really well and Andy comes in as a highly-experienced operator. I don’t need to give him advice, he knows what he’s doing and the place will continue to hum along.

“I think one of the highlights of my time as HMAS Cairns’ commander was being able to serve the community during the floods after Jasper. We came together with the fellow emergency services personnel undertaking hundreds of rescues.”

Coming into the new role, Cmdr Thorpe said he had a vision of growth and strong community relations for the future of HMAS Cairns.

“I’m very privileged to be put in the position of commanding officer of HMAS Cairns, taking over from Cmdr Santos. His efforts, professionalism and dedication to the base and personnel has really enhanced our capability up in the north and he’s left a big set of shoes to fill,” he said.

“Cmdr Santos has worked very hard engaging with the community and that’s really important. HMAS Cairns is a big part of this community, and we really need to have a good relationship with the community, and all of this infrastructure and development really signifies the importance of Cairns in that strategic environment.”

Before his future endeavours with the navy, Cmdr Santos said he was excited to take some time off to travel with his family. 


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