Woman on top: Norris scanning the ocean from the bridge of HMAS Success during the search for MH370.
KUALA LUMPUR: Captain Allison Norris, who is heading the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) search for flight MH370, is one tough woman.
She has 25 years experience and is a warfare specialist.
As commanding officer of the HMAS Success, Capt Norris leads a crew of over 200 now on a search mission in the desolate southern Indian Ocean.
The search is hard but Capt Norris is made of stern stuff.
“The crew are entirely focused on the mission at hand. Morale is good and we are focused on recovering any debris that might be associated with the missing plane,” she said.
“The ship’s crew is acutely aware that there are families of the 239 on board that aircraft and we see it as our role to do whatever we can to provide the answers they deserve.”
Capt Norris (nee Horder), who grew up in Maitland, New South Wales, joined the navy
in 1987 and graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1989.
According to the RAN website, she undertook Seaman Officer training on the Jervis Bay and Tobruk, achieving her Bridge Watchkeeping certificate in 1992.
She was promoted to Lieutenant in 1993 while serving on HMAS Sydney and deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Damask (Australia’s military contribution to the Gulf War).
After qualifying as an Air Intercept Controller, she returned to sea on HMAS Canberra, added RAN.
Capt Norris successfully completed warfare training specialising in Above Water Warfare in 1996 and then served on Sydney and Adelaide, which included service in support of Operation Bastille in East Timor, said the navy.
She was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 2000 and took up a two-year appointment with the United States Navy at the Navy
Combat Data Systems Centre in Virginia.
On her return, RAN said Capt Norris served as the Fleet Direction Officer before being appointed as Executive Officer of the HMAS Melbourne, which included another deployment to the Middle East, this time in support
of Operations Catalyst and Slipper (campaigns against terrorism, maritime security and piracy).
Capt Norris holds a Bachelor of Science, a Masters of Management (Defence Studies) and a Masters of Maritime Studies.
She had command of HMAS Melbourne between July 2008 and December 2009, which the navy describes as “a significant highlight of her career thus far.”
In 2010, Capt Norris was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in the Community and Government Category for the Australian Capital Territory.
She was promoted to Captain in August 2011 upon commencement in the role as the Director of the Joint Control Centre at Headquarters Joint Operations Command. She took command of HMAS Success in December 2012.