The Royal Australian Navy has tested its new Three Pound Saluting Gun Battery at the Garden Island Naval Base, in readiness for October’s International Fleet Review, which commemorates the arrival of Navy’s first fleet in Sydney Harbour in 1913.
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, said the guns would next be fired for the official 21-gun salute during the welcome of the Fleet by the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Hon Ms Quentin Bryce.
“Preparations for the International Fleet Review are well underway and the testing of the saluting guns is one of the more exciting stages of preparation,” Rear Admiral Barrett said.
The gun salute originates from a warship’s approach to a foreign port or allied ship when it took some time to reload a muzzle-loaded canon. Discharging its guns showed the ship posed no threat, and the port or other ship would reciprocate by discharging its guns in reply. Today the ‘Gun Salute’ is used for ceremonial purposes.
The firing of the salute is done at five-second intervals, with the Officer-in-Charge using a stopwatch to ensure the salute or response is at the correct intervals.
The Navy uses a portable saluting gun based on the French Hotchkiss Three Pound Mark I naval gun, introduced in 1886. Only blank cartridges are fired from the saluting gun, as its function is to produce a loud report and create smoke.
The International Fleet Review will commence with a tall ship entry to Sydney Harbour on Thursday, 3 October, followed by a combined warships fleet entry on Friday, 4 October, when the Governor-General will welcome the fleet from Bradley’s Head.
Saturday, 5 October will see the Ceremonial Fleet Review by the Governor-General, followed by aerial military aircraft displays and culminating in a 30-minute fireworks and light show.
More than 40 warships and 17 tall ships, plus 8000 naval personnel from 19 nations will participate in the International Fleet Review, which is being staged in partnership with the NSW Government and City of Sydney Council.
“The Navy is looking forward to sharing this historic event with Sydney,” Rear Admiral Barrett said.