Cowper Wharf Roadway could have been mistaken for the entry to a Harry Styles concert, as a flood of people lined the footpath to visit Fleet Base East’s open day on Sunday, February 26.
CAPTION: Lieutenant Commander Luke Marconi of HMAS Canberra shows damage control equipment to members of the public at HMAS Kuttabul’s Open Day during Navy Week. Story by Private Nicholas Marquis. Photo by Able Seaman Benjamin Ricketts.
A decade since the last open day, more than 2000 people entered in the first hour.
Commanding Officer HMAS Kuttabul Captain Viktor Pilicic was ecstatic to see the large numbers.
CAPTION: Members of the public visit HMAS Kuttabul’s Open Day during Navy Week. Photo by Able Seaman Benjamin Ricketts.
“One of the biggest challenges in recruiting is exposing people to our Navy and giving them something real to look at,” Captain Pilicic said.
“The fact we are letting people in the ships to meet people who have stories of their own, in uniform, is so important.”
The crowds were drawn to HMA Ships Canberra, Sydney and Arunta, as the passageways and flight decks were filled with demonstrations and hands-on displays.
With the celebration of Navy’s birthday on March 1, Captain Pilicic said the open day was a great way to show the local community that Navy people are present and serving their nation.
“I’ve done more than 36 years – that’s almost a third of Navy’s history,” Captain Pilicic said.
“It’s quite a sobering thought to think that I am now a part of the 122-year history of our Navy. Being an immigrant from central Europe in 1970, I took a risk.
“I wanted to do something different, seek adventure and I’ve never looked back.”
The open day was a chance for the local community to see what happens on Garden Island.
Captain Pilicic said the number of visitors made him realise the community are intrigued and eager to learn more.
CAPTION:Navy Cadets and HMAS Arunta crew welcome members of the public during HMAS Kuttabul’s Open Day. Photo by Able Seaman Benjamin Ricketts.
Inside Arunta, Commanding Officer Commander Jason McBain was excited to see the public interacting with his sailors who were showcasing the opportunities in Navy.
“The fact that people are lining up to talk with Arunta’s service men and women is fantastic,” Commander McBain said.
“To be able to share our experiences and what the ship is capable of is a privilege for us.”
More than 6000 people passed through the main gate at Garden Island, and Able Seaman Liam Moulton was blown away seeing the crowds.
“Our daily work is out of view for most members of the public so to see heaps of people here is really cool,” Able Seaman Moulton said.
“Meeting all the kids, the smiles on their faces. They got to put on the uniforms and feel like superheroes. Hopefully it inspires them to join up one day.”
“My grandparents are immigrants, so my give back to Australia for welcoming my family is my service.”