Serving sailor captures corvette history in new book

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author), LSIS James McDougall (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, NSW

Topic(s): Sea Power Conference, Naval Heritage and History, Commendation

Royal Australian Navy sailor, Able Seaman Libby Pearce, (centre) receives a commendation and a presentation from Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan AO, RAN, with her stepfather at the 2019 Seapower Conference in the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney. (photo: LS James McDougall)
Royal Australian Navy sailor, Able Seaman Libby Pearce, (centre) receives a commendation and a presentation from Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan AO, RAN, with her stepfather at the 2019 Seapower Conference in the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

The 2019 Sea Power Conference has provided the perfect setting for the launch of a naval history book written by a young serving sailor.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, launched The ABC of Royal Australian Navy Corvettes by Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Libby Pearce in front of an audience that included her mum, Lisa, and stepdad, Neil.

Vice Admiral Noonan also presented Able Seaman Pearce with an official Chief of Navy commendation in recognition of her research and hard work to bring the book to publication.

“Built between 1940 and 1944, these corvettes carried the names of great Australian towns and cities, they were built largely by Australians who had never built ships before and largely crewed by Reservists of our Navy,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Libby through her research and eye for detail has put together this magnificent book and it is my absolute pleasure to launch it today.”

“This is the sort of thinking that I want to see in the young people of our Navy, this is the sort of commitment I want to see from each and every single one.”

“This is the challenge I set out to the future generations of our Navy: to capture those parts of our history from which we will learn as we go forward into the future.”

Able Seaman Pearce said the publication of The ABC of Royal Australian Navy Corvettes was the result of six months of hard work and was a standout moment in her eight years in the Navy.

“I never thought in my career that I’d be standing in front of my peers, the Chief of Navy and my family presenting a body of work I’m so proud of,” Able Seaman Pearce said.

Able Seaman Pearce was inspired to document Navy’s Second World War fleet of corvettes specifically after learning about their rich history through her work as the Sea Power Centre’s website administrator where she updated information about their history.

“They were the workhorse of the Second World War and it was the largest Australian ship building effort at the time and so many Australian personnel served on them,” Able Seaman Pearce said.

“I just wanted people to see what I saw every day, which was their faces, their stories and them being larrikins.

“It was quite daunting as there were 56 ships in that class but I started looking at the images and reading their stories and I wanted to know more.

“I wanted to know where their camouflage paint scheme came from, why there were pictures of personnel wearing different uniforms at sea and, more importantly, where I could find more information.

“I hope people enjoy their stories as much as I did,” Able Seaman Pearce said.