School children transition from ship to shore

Published on LEUT Kara Wansbury (author), ABIS Chris Beerens (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling

Year 6 and 7 students from Ocean Reef Primary on the forecastle of HMAS Arunta  during their tour onboard HMAS Stirling. (photo: ABIS Chris Beerens)
Year 6 and 7 students from Ocean Reef Primary on the forecastle of HMAS Arunta during their tour onboard HMAS Stirling.

Students and teachers from Ocean Reef Primary School in Perth’s northern suburbs had a taste of life in the Navy during their recent visit to HMAS Stirling. Their experience, however, wasn’t too far removed from their everyday school experience because Ocean Reef Primary School is designed and managed like a ship.

Nautical terms are the common vernacular used by the students, who describe their classrooms as cabins and their Principal as their Commanding Officer.

“The visit to the Navy’s Western Australian base cemented their relationship with HMAS Stirling and provided a great opportunity for the students to understand teamwork in a Navy context” said HMAS Stirling’s Commanding Officer, Captain Angela Bond.

Year 6 and 7 students from Ocean Reef Primary on the forecastle of HMAS Arunta  during their tour onboard HMAS Stirling.

Year 6 and 7 students from Ocean Reef Primary on the forecastle of HMAS Arunta during their tour onboard HMAS Stirling.


“The program took the students around Stirling, with a visit to a ship alongside, the museum and the submarine escape training facility,” Captain Bond said.

“Their exposure to different units on the establishment enabled them to see, first-hand, what it takes to be a Navy sailor. The school fosters teamwork and a sense of adventure and they experienced both during their visit,” she said.

The students dined in the Junior Sailor’s Mess where they enjoyed a meal prepared by the Stirling Chefs.

“I am really proud of our maritime logistics personnel; they displayed a strong sense of camaraderie during the lunch and engaged with the potential future sailors and Officers of the Royal Australian Navy,” Captain Bond said.

Everest Severesen from Ocean Reef Primary School eagerly awaiting his lunch from the HMAS Stirling Junior Sailors Mess.

Everest Severesen from Ocean Reef Primary School eagerly awaiting his lunch from the HMAS Stirling Junior Sailors Mess.


It’s important with so many personnel based here at Stirling that we engage with the community. Our 26-year relationship with the Ocean Reef Primary School is an achievement that all Stirling personnel can be proud of,” she said.

As a virtual ship, the school provides opportunities for teamwork, common directions, a sense of adventure and a journey ahead. Elements of the maritime theme are built into the physical environment of the school. Dressed as sailors, the students have an excellent Drum Corp which performs regularly at events. A host of nautical terms describes school operations, and school equipment. Flags are flown from a signal hoist and all of the school’s crew, being the students (kindergarten to year seven), staff, parents and community members, have a role to play in the daily operations of their ship.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141611.