Stirling puts on VIP treatment for special visitor

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), CPOIS David Connolly (photographer), Ms Kerry Tate (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, HMAS Ballarat (F155)

Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, Commander David Landon, RAN, welcomes Mr Ian Blackburn on the bridge of Ballarat prior to a comprehensive tour of the bridge by Navigating Officer Lieutenant Michael Gordon.   (photo: CPOIS David Connolly)
Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, Commander David Landon, RAN, welcomes Mr Ian Blackburn on the bridge of Ballarat prior to a comprehensive tour of the bridge by Navigating Officer Lieutenant Michael Gordon.

For a long time, Ian Blackburn has had a voracious appetite for all things Navy and a recent visit to HMA Ships Stirling and Ballarat fulfilled a lifelong ambition for him.

Mr Blackburn, who has been blind since birth, was given the VIP treatment recently touring various sites around the naval base at Stirling, culminating with a visit to Anzac class frigate, Ballarat, which is home-ported at Fleet Base West.

Speaking after his visit, Mr Blackburn, who holds a Masters Degree in Information Systems, said he thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to spend a day with Navy.

"This is an experience money just can't buy," he said.

"Everyone was so good to me; it was the greatest thing to feel comfortable during all aspects of the tour."

Mr Blackburn said one of the highlights of the day was a tour of the Fleet Base West Gymnasium.

Chief Petty Officer Physical Trainer (PT) Paul Williams looks on as Petty Officer PT Steven Adams and Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Zac Stanley assist Mr Ian Blackburn conduct the 'hang' element of the RAN Fitness Test.

Chief Petty Officer Physical Trainer (PT) Paul Williams looks on as Petty Officer PT Steven Adams and Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Zac Stanley assist Mr Ian Blackburn conduct the 'hang' element of the RAN Fitness Test.



"I loved the gym," he said.

"They had to stop me from running; I'm sure I could do better in the beep test if I was wearing the right runners."

Mr Blackburn had a special mention for Ballarat's ship's company.

"The whole crew was very welcoming and easy to talk to, and the ship felt immense and strong," he said.

The tour was organised by Stirling Visit Liaison Officer Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Graham Body.