Retirement calls after 47 years

Published on LEUT John Cole (author), ABIS Alan Lancaster (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, AS350BA Squirrel, 816 Squadron

Executive Officer 816 Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Justin Hardiman, welcomed Sonia Dowsing and retiring Captain Brett Dowsing to 816 Squadron, HMAS Albatross. It was both a trip down memory lane and a glimpse into the Fleet Air Arm's future during the visit, with Lieutenant Commander Hardiman conducting Captain Dowsing on a tour of the Squadron's hangar and facilities.  Captain Dowsing, who is retiring after a varied and exciting 47 years in the Royal Australian Navy, counts his time as Commanding Officer of 816 Squadron as one of his many career highlights.  (photo: ABIS Alan Lancaster)
Executive Officer 816 Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Justin Hardiman, welcomed Sonia Dowsing and retiring Captain Brett Dowsing to 816 Squadron, HMAS Albatross. It was both a trip down memory lane and a glimpse into the Fleet Air Arm's future during the visit, with Lieutenant Commander Hardiman conducting Captain Dowsing on a tour of the Squadron's hangar and facilities. Captain Dowsing, who is retiring after a varied and exciting 47 years in the Royal Australian Navy, counts his time as Commanding Officer of 816 Squadron as one of his many career highlights.

One Navy Captain is able to look back on a career unlike any other – with command at all commissioned rank levels and service around the globe and having served almost half of the organisation's life.

Captain Brett Dowsing retired in January after 47 years of service. He is one of only a handful of Defence personnel who have been tasked with sea, air and shore command.

With career highlights including five commands – the Royal Australian Air Force's Search and Rescue Section Williamstown at Newcastle; patrol boats HMAS Buccaneer and Gladstone; command of helicopter squadron, 816 Squadron, in Nowra, and base command at HMAS Stirling, Captain Dowsing is well placed to reflect on a “fortunate” career.

"Having been raised in country Western Australia and in Papua New Guinea, the opportunity to travel was a principal motivation for my joining and continuing to serve in the Navy,” Captain Dowsing said.

“‘Join the Navy and see the world’ was the recruiting call when I joined the Naval College in January 1969 and it has delivered.

“I have been fortunate to have visited most of the major ports and capitals of the Pacific and Asia, done courses in UK and France, conducted representational duties in France, Italy, UK and USA including Hawaii, and had postings to the Embassies in Washington DC (during the 9/11 attacks and consequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and Seoul (during which I visited North Korea and was also accredited to Mongolia)."

Other principal experiences have included raising interim helicopter flights for the Navy's Guided Missile Frigates with Kiowa and Squirrel helicopters, commissioning 816 Squadron and building the Navy embarked Seahawk capability for two types of frigate.

He also flew Wessex helicopters in counter-terrorist roles and Kiowa helicopters involved in survey support operations in HMAS Moresby.

"I am probably one of the last permanent Navy person who served during the Vietnam War, which now makes me realise my age!" he said.

"While its been a ball I also reflect on those shipmates who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during their service and was particularly saddened, as a member of the Sea King Board of Inquiry, following the crash of Shark 02 in Indonesia in 2005.

"However, I also have seen great strides following that continue Navy's evolution and professionalisation."

He says he's had a fortunate career and appreciates it.

"Every job has been a challenge but also an opportunity to develop personally and with my colleagues and shipmates," he said.

"I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve had as a naval officer and aviator and believe that I’ve faithfully exemplified Navy’s rich heritage.

"I look forward to retirement with my long suffering wife and family; in summary, it’s been a ton of fun!”