Travelling overseas, when it was still done by sea-liner, inspired Commander Antony Ladomirski to join the Royal Australian Navy in 1972.
CAPTION: Commander Antony Ladomirski in front of the Sea Power Centre Australia in Canberra. Story and photo by Leading Seaman Kylie Jagiello.
After 38 years in the permanent force, Commander Ladomirski transferred to the reserves for his remaining 12 years, before hanging up his naval hat for the last time on November 4.
“I would describe my 50 years as enjoyable, with times that provided challenges and wasn’t easy for my family,” he said.
“That fact I stayed as long as I have tells you something. The Navy has given me many opportunities and diverse postings.”
Trained as a maritime warfare officer, Commander Ladomirski’s postings ranged from navigator and communicator to command of three ships.
“I was the last navigator on HMAS Duchess, which was also where I had completed my assistant navigator time,” he said.
“Duchess was one of the last open bridges in the fleet and I was part of the decommissioning crew.”
In 1997, he was the Commanding Officer of HMAS Westralia when the Navy rescued stricken yachtsmen Tony Bullimore and Terry Dubois.
As it was Christmas stand-down, half the crew were still on leave and he had to recall many.
“We sailed and had one breakdown after another. Just when I was about to advise we weren’t going to be able to do this, the ship clicked in,” Commander Ladomirski said.
“After HMAS Adelaide had completed the rescue, we were able to refuel them and they returned Mr Bullimore and Mr Dubois to Fremantle.”
Part of the last sub-lieutenant course to train in the UK in 1975, Commander Ladomirski went back years later for his principal warfare officer course.
“We were in Gibraltar, doing our gunnery serials as part of the course, and the Falklands War began at Easter 1982,” he said.
“Most units in Gibraltar at the time went south. We went back to the UK to continue our course but were advised to be prepared that our course may be cut short.
“The war was resolved before we were required, but after that we had many instructors who had seen conflict and were able to incorporate that in our training.”
He finished his career as the coordinator for Navy’s oral history program at the Sea Power Centre Australia, a posting he began in 2017.
Running for 20 years, it started off as capturing interviews for people doing research projects and developed into a means of capturing people’s naval stories and experiences.