The training behind the ceremony

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABATV Kieren Whiteley (photographer), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer), LSIS Chris Szumlanski (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base East, NSW

Topic(s): Ceremony and Traditions, Fleet Base East

A member of the Catafalque Party presents a General Salute during the 2018 memorial service marking the 76th anniversary of the Japanese midget submarine attack in Sydney Harbour and sinking of RAN depot ship, HMAS Kuttabul. (photo: ABATV Kieren Whiteley)
A member of the Catafalque Party presents a General Salute during the 2018 memorial service marking the 76th anniversary of the Japanese midget submarine attack in Sydney Harbour and sinking of RAN depot ship, HMAS Kuttabul.

Everybody loves a parade.

What most people don’t appreciate is all the time and effort that goes into ensuring the parade goes off without a hitch.

The team responsible for the success of many of Navy’s ceremonial commitments on the east coast is the Command Ceremonial section based at Fleet Base East on Garden Island.

Unlike the Australian Defence Force’s tri-service Federation Guard, the Fleet Command Ceremonial team has no regular group of personnel whose primary duties are to form Guards or Ceremonial Parties.

Chief Petty Officer Boatswains Greg Morris, the Manager of Command Ceremonial and its senior drill instructor, said the team relies on a small group of dedicated professionals from the Boatswains branch who bring their expertise to training others to meet required commitments.

“We cover parades from Anzac Day to Freedom of Entries, but also ceremonies like commissionings and funerals,” he said.

Many activities are the end product of hours of training and drilling, including armed guards, flag bearers and formed squad marching.

“A simple 30 minute ceremony may require more than a week’s dedicated training to support the event,” Chief Morris said.

This year has seen an increase in Fleet ceremonial support, with multiple ships being decommissioned, fleet events and commemorations.

The high tempo will continue into 2020, with new ships being commissioned and further commemorations of Royal Australian units and military actions.

“We don’t just plan for the events we know are coming up, but are prepared to support activities at short notice, such as Catafalque and Funeral Parties,” Chief Morris said.

Next time you see a Navy Ceremonial Guard or Flag Party, take time to appreciate the coordination and training that has happened behind the scenes to deliver this activity to the community.

Everybody loves a parade, but everyone should be proud of the hard work Navy does to make the people of Australia proud of its senior service: the Royal Australian Navy.

Command Ceremonial Yeoman, Leading Seaman Boatswains Barnabas Dewis conducts form training with the members of the Ceremonial Guard at HMAS Watson.

Command Ceremonial Yeoman, Leading Seaman Boatswains Barnabas Dewis conducts form training with the members of the Ceremonial Guard at HMAS Watson.