West-based fleet on display

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Mick Wheeler (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer), ABCIS Lincoln Commane (photographer)

Location(s): Rockingham, Western Australia

Topic(s): Ceremonial Divisions, Fleet Base West

A platoon from HMAS Stirling 'Eyes Right' as they march past the Chief of Navy (CN), Vice Admiral Timothy Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN during CN's Ceremonial Divisions held at HMAS Stirling.  (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
A platoon from HMAS Stirling 'Eyes Right' as they march past the Chief of Navy (CN), Vice Admiral Timothy Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN during CN's Ceremonial Divisions held at HMAS Stirling.

The conduct of divisions is a time-honoured tradition which continued recently south of Perth with more than 1,300 personnel from HMAS Stirling, resident units, and all Fleet Base West home-ported ships and submarines parading on the main sports field.
 
Dating back to the days of Admiral Nelson, it was a weekly event that began with a complete formal muster of the whole ship’s company to ensure that the ship’s records reflected the personnel present.

It also provided a suitable opportunity for presentation of medals and awards; an opportunity for the Commanding Officer to address the ship’s company and ensured that all officers and sailors had the correct items of uniform and in good order.
 
Parade Marshal, Lieutenant Mal O’Neill whilst acknowledging the traditions involved pointed out that divisions are still very relevant to a modern Navy.
 
“Ceremonial divisions have been found by experience to form a sound basis for development of those characteristics required in a well- disciplined person and serves to instill a sense of pride in the member and their unit," he said.

"They demonstrate organisation and exercise powers of leadership by the delegation of Command from the Parade Commander all the way through to Platoon Commanders and Platoon Supernumeraries.”
 
Ceremonial Divisions of itself is a series of activities that also have historical significance.

As the guard went about presenting arms, they were honouring a tradition that goes back to the times of King Charles II whereby the holding up of weapons in a harmless position was a way of showing allegiance to the King.

Likewise, inspection by a Reviewing Officer is also believed to be from the same period whereby the King on personally inspecting a guard believed he could determine their attitude and sincerity to serve him by looking at their facial expressions.  
 
The Reviewing Officer, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett who was received on parade by Commanding Officer Stirling, Captain Brian Delamont, made special mention of the return of HMAS Rankin from her recent nine month deployment, HMAS Toowoomba’s new crew, Australian Naval Cadets, and Able Seaman Marine Technician Mark Daniels who had returned after a period of adversary.
 
Divisions was well attended by guests and families and was accompanied by the presentation of three Federation Stars, each representing 40 years of service, to Lieutenant Commander Steve Alchin, Lieutenant Commander Peter Clarke and Chief Petty Officer Boatswains Mate Graham Body.