Changing with the times - Navy veteran reflects on 50 years of service

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), LSIS Kayla Jackson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney

Topic(s): Federation Star

Leading Seaman Communication and Information Systems Roger Dalby, CSM (centre), talks about his career with Leading Seaman Stewart Skidmore and Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Danielle Jewitt before being awarded his third Federation Star at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney. (photo: LSIS Kayla Jackson)
Leading Seaman Communication and Information Systems Roger Dalby, CSM (centre), talks about his career with Leading Seaman Stewart Skidmore and Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Danielle Jewitt before being awarded his third Federation Star at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney.

In a first for Navy, a sailor has been awarded a third Federation Star for 50 years of continuous service.

Recipient of the award, Leading Seaman Communications Information Systems (CIS) Roger Dalby, CSM, said change has had a major impact on his five decades of service.

Joining the Navy as a Junior Recruit during the Vietnam War, he has served on ships built during the Second World War - a far cry from the modern fleet and workforce he is working in today.

LS Dalby joined the Navy in 1968 as a Junior Recruit at HMAS Leeuwin, and since then has gone on to serve 50 years of continuous service. He has served 37 years at sea in over a dozen ships - patrol boats, replenishment ships, destroyers and an aircraft carrier.

He has deployed to 14 operations and has been decorated for service in conflicts from the Middle East to Vietnam. LS Dalby has also been awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM).

LS Dalby has declined promotion on a number of occasions due to his strong desire to stay at sea and continue to work in a role he is passionate about.

When LS Dalby first went to sea he worked with communications equipment that was slow, staff intensive and required large ships' compartments of all male crews.

”I used to go on watch on the carrier HMAS Sydney with a dozen other operators and man equipment that was designed in the 1950s,” LS Dalby said. Today CIS sailors work in a high tech communications centre on a warship, with a small skilled mixed crew of both male and female specialists.

Some of today’s generation were on hand when LS Dalby was formally recognised for his service.

The third Federation Star to his Defence Force Service Medal (DFSM) was presented by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan. At the ceremony, CN paid tribute to LS Dalby’s decades as both a sailor and mentor to future generations.

“LS Dalby has demonstrated a commitment and passion to the Navy that serves as a positive example to others,” CN said.

For Able Seaman CIS Danielle Jewitt and LS Stewart Skidmore, working alongside LS Dalby has been a terrific experience.

“He is so friendly and makes time for us all,” AB Jewitt said.

“Roger has a wealth of experience with communications equipment and readily shares this with the team,” LS Skidmore said.

LS Dalby commented his team were a friendly bunch and that the younger sailor these days were very smart and knew their job well.

The guided missile destroyer HMAS Perth and frigate HMAS Darwin are two of LS Dalby’s favourite sea postings, but he said he learned his craft as the sole operator communications sailor on patrol boats (HMA Ships Assail and Attack) and landing craft (HMAS Brunei). As the only communications sailor onboard he was the ‘jack of all trades’ and was responsible for signals, equipment, flag, light and voice. “I spent 10 years on small boats and loved every bit of it,” LS Dalby said.

LS Dalby has a great deal of pride for his branch and the team he works with. “The changes have all been for the better and I am proud of what we can achieve today,” he said. “I learn as much from them as they do from me.”