Ashes of former sailors committed to the sea they loved

Published on MIDN Scott Hankey (author), ABCSO Christopher Lloyd (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Success (OR 304), Commitment of Ashes Ceremony

(L-R) CHAP Andrew Thorburn conducts the remembrance service, along with Commanding Officer HMAS Success, CAPT Darren Grogan,  ABML-SC Cheryl Sutherland and CPONPC Jane Butcher. (photo: ABCSO Christopher Lloyd)
(L-R) CHAP Andrew Thorburn conducts the remembrance service, along with Commanding Officer HMAS Success, CAPT Darren Grogan, ABML-SC Cheryl Sutherland and CPONPC Jane Butcher.

ABML-SC Cheryl Sutherland scatters the ashes of her uncle, Petty Officer Collin Sutherland.

ABML-SC Cheryl Sutherland scatters the ashes of her uncle, Petty Officer Collin Sutherland.

HMAS Success took a solemn pause from a busy deployment to farewell two former members of the Royal Australian Navy. Ship’s company paid their respects at an ashes scattering ceremony commemorating the combined total of almost 50 years’ service of Chief Petty Officer David Pownall and Petty Officer Collin Sutherland.

“That former members wish to entrust this duty to us is a testimony to the impact their time in the Royal Australian Navy had on their lives and it is a privilege for us to take part in this ceremony”, said CO Success, Captain Darren Grogan.

The ceremony had a personal connection for Able Seaman Cheryl Sutherland, niece of Petty Officer Collin Sutherland.

AB Sutherland described her uncle as a second father to her and her sister as they grew up. For Success and her crew, it was a privilege to be able to share in this occasion with her. During his 16 years as a stoker, Collin served in HMA Ships Australia, aircraft carriers Sydney and Melbourne, Queensborough, Anzac, Vendetta, Kanimbla and Warrego.

Collin loved to tell an anecdote from his time serving in the Aircraft Carrier Sydney. He had detailed off a few American sailors serving on board at the time to move some drums of meat. He told them to “throw them over there to the other side”, however failing to understand his Australian colloquialism, the American sailors threw the drums containing the ship’s fresh meat over the side of the ship into the water

During the ceremony, representatives of Success also scattered the ashes of CPO David Pownall, who served for 33 years as a radio plotter. He joined the RAN at the age of 15 years and 5 months just as the Vietnam War was escalating and provided full time service until 1989. He served in HMA Ships Leeuwin, Sydney, Watson, Vendetta, Melbourne, Curlew, Parramatta, Torrens, Moreton, Brisbane, Adelaide and Darwin.