Monument to Sailors gathers momentum

Published on LCDR Brian Lane (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Location(s): Rockingham, Western Australia, Fremantle, Western Australia

Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Tim Barret, AO, CSC, RAN, meets with the Directors of the Australian Sailors Monument, Commodore Bob Trotter, RAN (Rtd), and Project Convenor Mr Gavin Ryan at HMAS Stirling to discuss the proposed sailor's monument at Fremantle WA. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Tim Barret, AO, CSC, RAN, meets with the Directors of the Australian Sailors Monument, Commodore Bob Trotter, RAN (Rtd), and Project Convenor Mr Gavin Ryan at HMAS Stirling to discuss the proposed sailor's monument at Fremantle WA.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett has been updated on a plan to build a $2 million sculpture to acknowledge the contribution of sailors to Australia's history, during his recent visit to HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.

The imposing public sculpture on North Mole at Rous Head, in Fremantle Harbour, is a national project to mark the role of sailors in the discovery, settlement, development and defence of Australia and, in particular, Fremantle.

Project convenor, Gavin Ryan, and director Commodore Bob Trotter (Ret’d) told Vice Admiral Barrett that attention had turned to seeking the balance of required funds from businesses and the community.

The Royal Australian Navy is a major foundation supporter of the project. The Federal Government, through Navy and the Department of Defence, the Western Australian Government and Lotterywest have committed a combined $1.07 million of funding.

The Government has also supported Fremantle Ports in providing the land for the monument and ensured the Western Australian Maritime Museum will be in a position to maintain it.

Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews has given his support and encouragement to the project.

The monument will feature a bronze sculpture of a sailor leaving home to join a ship, a 10 metre high polished stonecast gnomon in the shape of a ship’s bow that will act as a sundial and will be clearly visible to ships approaching the coast while they are still below the horizon, along with a series of free-standing information panels.

The gnomon will weigh approximately 40 tonnes and be one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Vice Admiral Barrett thanked the team for their work and said Navy was pleased to be a major supporter of the project.

“The monument when completed will be a wonderful tribute to the men and women of our Navy, along with so many others that have served before, some paying the ultimate sacrifice,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.

Mr Ryan said detailed design by sculptors Charles and Joan Smith, who’s many outstanding works include the HMAS Sydney II memorial at Geraldton, north of Perth, and the National Memorial to the Australian Army in Canberra, was almost finished and preliminary engineering testing of the site had been done.

“The magnificent monument will be a fitting celebration of the many years that the men and women of our Navy, along with so many others, have been going down to the sea in ships,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan served in the communications branch of the Royal Australian Navy before carving out a successful career in finance and banking. Commodore Trotter ended a 35-year Navy career as Commodore Fleet Bases and is National President of the Submarines Association Australia and a former director of the Finding Sydney Foundation. The other three directors of the Australian Sailor Monument project team also have Navy service.