Coonawarra a ceremonial crowd-pleaser

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin

Topic(s): Ceremonial Divisions, Ceremonial Sunset, HMAS Coonawarra, Navy Week

Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, AM, CSC and Bar, RAN, speaks with Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Scott Fox of Patrol Boat Headquarters during Ceremonial Divisions at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.  (photo: LSIS James Whittle)
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, AM, CSC and Bar, RAN, speaks with Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Scott Fox of Patrol Boat Headquarters during Ceremonial Divisions at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.
About 100 Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors turned on a display of professionalism and precision when they conducted Ceremonial Divisions and a Sunset Ceremony to crowds at Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin, recently.
 
Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, was the reviewing officer for the event, which was one of the highlights of Northern Territory Navy Week.
 
Commanding Officer Coonawarra, Commander Viktor Pilicic said it was the first time the Navy traditions had been performed on the famous beach but certainly wouldn’t be the last.
 
“Every officer and sailor involved in the ceremonial divisions and sunset ceremony felt justifiably proud, and I hope that everyone in Darwin who witnessed it felt proud of them as well,” he said.
 
“They represented HMAS Coonawarra and the Royal Australian Navy in the best possible light and showed what a truly professional organisation this is and; that we take pride in our service.”
 
Ceremonial Divisions assembles the ship’s company for inspection by a reviewing senior officer. The Sunset Ceremony is also steeped in tradition and honours the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who have served during war and peace.
 
Sunset Ceremony is preceded by a Beat to Quarters played by the Navy Band, a practice that dates back centuries to the age of sail, when a ship’s drums were beaten to summon men to quarters or action stations when battle was imminent.
 
At five minutes to Sunset, the Evening Hymn is played and followed by a volley of blank shots fired by the guard, echoing the old practice of saluting the end of the fighting day.
 
Navy Week ran from 12 to 20 August.