Sydney families flock to Navy Week open day

A record number of visitors attended Fleet Base East’s open day in Sydney on February 25, with more than 8000 people exploring ships and engaging with Royal Australian Navy personnel.

CAPTIONAble Seaman Peter Mason demonstrates fire-fighting hose techniques onboard HMAS Arunta during Fleet Base East’s open day, Sydney. Story by Lieutenant Marie Davies. Photos by Able Seaman Lucinda Allanson.

The star attractions were guided missile destroyer HMAS Hobart, Anzac-class frigate HMAS Arunta, and landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra. Their passageways and flight decks buzzed with crew interactions and hands-on displays.

Commanding Officer HMAS Kuttabul Captain Rebecca Levitt said sharing the naval base with the public and showcasing Navy’s capabilities was fulfilling.

“It’s about giving something back to our community and allowing them to see what we do every day and why we as sailors and officers in the Navy are proud to be here,” Captain Levitt said.

CAPTIONYoung members of the public receive submarine figures made from a 3D printer during Fleet Base East’s open day during Navy Week.

Able Seaman Samantha-Jayne Sellers, of HMAS Arunta, left her civilian job to support her country and “to make a difference”. Now, four years later, she was happy to share her experiences with visitors, including the unique sense of belonging forged in Navy.

“You get to experience things that you will never experience in the civilian world, including lots of travel,” Able Seaman Sellers said.

“All the friendships that you make in the military, I’ve never experienced friendships like it.”

For HMAS Hobart Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander James Dobson, the best part of the day was showing the public his “home away from home”, especially the many families coming through on ship tours, and ex-service members who were keen to “reminisce about their time in the Navy”. He also said the open day was an opportunity to talk to those considering joining Navy.

“The ability for us to show the public what we do for a living, to share our home and to hopefully inspire a bunch of new recruits to come in and effectively take over from us in a few years is an incredible opportunity,” Lieutenant Commander Dobson said.

Among the inspired was 17-year-old Jaylan David who, along with his father and grandfather, made the 1.5-hour journey from Wollongong specifically to get a behind-the-scenes peek into life in the ADF.

“I’m here because I’d like to experience working with and around the Defence Force, to help me decide my future career,” Jaylan said.

“I’ve always been interested in military history tactics and my uncle used to be a paratrooper, so I’ve just decided to do it too.

“I’ve been on many warships in the US, and on battleships and supply ships. Canberra was definitely one of the best ones I’ve been on.”

Reflecting on her 28 years of service, Captain Rebecca Levitt offered some sage advice for those like Jaylan considering a career in Navy, or the ADF in general.

“Give it a go. There are so many different jobs out there, which can use your skills, your talents, and your interests. There’s going to be something there that will match you perfectly.”

The open day was one of many activities conducted around the country during Navy Week, including ceremonial sunsets, open days, sporting events, capability demonstrations and Navy’s birthday.

CAPTION: Members of the public enjoy displays on HMAS Canberra’s flight deck during Fleet Base East’s open day during Navy Week in Sydney.


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