Thursday, 22 November 2007

Sea-legging it
Last night, David and I were invited to a reception on board the Australian Navy ship, HMAS Sydney (pic above pinched from the RAN website - sorry, guys!). It was a fab little affair, with drinks and canapes and a great and very funny welcoming speech by the commanding officer in whch he equated his ship - a 134-metre-long guided missile frigate with a crew of about 220 - to a sort of blokey souped-up ute with a great big engine and some really fun weaponry.
The officers were all in their formal blues, having left their hats here ...

... which fascinated me. I guess that left both hands free to hold their beers! There were lots of women officers, which was good to see, and the CO explained that the ship was supposed to come with two helicopters, and he'd asked for them, but the navy had given them a band instead. So they put on a special ceremony just for us ...

... with swords, marching, drumrolls and a gun salute, to strike the White Ensign and announce sunset. Then we all sang Advance Australia Fair, with tears in our eyes, followed by the US anthem. The diminutive woman standing at the microphone on the far right of the pic above is the Sydney's gunnery officer - you can just see (if you click for a bigger image) all the gold on the end of her sleeves.
I found a young officer to show me where the loo was, and he took me halfway to the pointy end of the ship, led me inside the washroom and showed me the actual cubicle. I almost expected him to put the seat down for me. Then, once I emerged, he cheerfully led me back to the party. Such a gent!

:: It was all over at 8pm, so David and I hastened back to the Bondi to join our regular team, the Space Bars, for the quiz night. And one of our team members was a very polite young lad from Ohio, Daniel, who is a enlisted man on the USS Princeton ...

... (pic pinched from the US Navy website - sorry guys!). This is a slightly bigger (40 m or so) ship than the Sydney, a guided missile cruiser with about 600 on board. Daniel has been with our team for two weeks, but the Princeton sails soon, so we'll have to wait for him to get back to San Diego.

:: Thanksgiving tomorrow!

3 comments:

Laura Jane said...

Nice story Les. Aren't sea-based crew interesting to meet? When I was a wee gel (well...20-21)and living in Singapore we met the Black Knight Helicopter Squadron (8 of them)of the USS Kittihawk aircraft carrier. We had such a good time with them on shore leave, and they too were gentlemen. They came to see us regularly at the show, and met us out later for drinks, took us out to the boat, and weekend picnics etc. Just wanting some company and new faces.They were SD based. We corresponded with them for a few years from memory, and I still have the helicopter squadron badge as an honorary member of the Black Knights.

Lady Good'n'Plenty signing off!

Karen said...

Les, such an innocent! I rather think he might have escorted you so you didn't take snaps of the secret admirals' business, or leave a wad of geli on the door jamb!

Lesley (El Zed) said...

Well yes, you're probably right, Karen! But he was actually making sure I didn't fall down any of those holes in the floor they call stairs, or trip over any of those steps across the doorways!