Special commissioning gift for Squadron

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), Mr Trevor Veale (photographer)

Location(s): Nowra, New South Wales

A sword presented to visiting AS350 Squirrel Pilots Lieutenant  Mark Green and Lieutenant Dean Williams by Coffs Harbour RSL president Bob Payne. (photo: Mr Trevor Veale)
A sword presented to visiting AS350 Squirrel Pilots Lieutenant Mark Green and Lieutenant Dean Williams by Coffs Harbour RSL president Bob Payne.

Royal Australian Navy units foster close relationships with communities throughout Australia through the tradition of being 'adopted' by a city. The connection between Navy personnel and these communities is developed and celebrated through participation in ceremonial events such as Anzac Day and the granting of Freedom of Entry. Less formal activities can include school visits or mentoring local cadet units. 

The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm have bonds as far afield as Jindabyne (723 Squadron), Goolwa (808 Squadron) and Caloundra (816 Squadron). The Fleet Air Arm's newest unit, 725 Squadron, will be adopted by the City of Coffs Harbour. 

Intensive preparations are currently underway for the Squadron's commissioning ceremony on 11 June. The ceremony is an important historical occasion for Navy, marking the formal induction of the Squadron and aircraft into the Fleet Air Arm and a small part of Coffs Harbour history will play a significant role in the ceremony.

The bond between Coffs Harbour and 725 Squadron will be represented by a Royal Navy Officer Sword which usually takes pride of place in the display cupboard of the Coffs Harbour RSL Sub Branch. The RSL has lent the sword to 725 Commanding Officer, Commander Dave Frost, to wear during the commissioning ceremony.

Commander Frost said it was a symbolic way of acknowledging an important link.  "725 Squadron has already commenced building on our relationship with the Coffs Harbour community," he said.

"We participated in the Anzac Day services this year and we were overwhelmed by our warm welcome into the community. 

"We really want to build on that association and I think this is the beginning of a great friendship."

Lieutenants Mark Green and Dean Williams of 723 Squadron collected the sword from RSL Sub Branch President Bob Payne and Mayor Denise Knight whilst on a training flight in the area. 

"We were a little bit nervous about being entrusted with what is obviously a treasured item", Lieutenant Green said. 

"But both Mr Payne and Mayor Knight were very pleased that they would have this connection with such an important occasion."

Ms Knight said she was looking forward to establishing close ties with the Navy through the new squadron. 

"Having them take part in Anzac Day, as well as other local events and school visits will add a new dimension to the Coffs Harbour community," she said.