HS Blue Crew were also the first to have the honour of receiving the award from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales who visited HMAS Cairns in Far North Queensland for the occasion. The Duke of Gloucester’s Cup is an annual award presented to the Royal Australian Navy unit, crew, squadron, clearance diving team or establishment that excelled in all aspects of safety, reliability and unit level training.
Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Jessica Parsons, a member of Blue Crew for two and a half years, was able to speak briefly to the Prince of Wales following the award ceremony.
“His Royal Highness was very down to earth, asking me about my mother and grandmother who were here for the award,” Able Seaman Parsons said.
“As a Cairns local, I am really proud to be part of the first Cairns-based crew to receive this award, and we were all really honoured to have His Royal Highness come to our city to make the presentation.”
HS Blue Crew member Petty Officer Marine Technician Christopher McFadden was joined for the presentation by his wife Melissa and daughter Victoria.
“Victoria had been excited for days about the chance to meet His Royal Highness, and it was really special when she was able to present a bouquet of flowers to him,” Petty Officer McFadden said.
“This has been a special day that capped off an exceptional year for the crew.”
Mrs Melissa McFadden was not alone in her pride for her husband and Blue Crew for all their achievements in 2017.
“The lead-up to today has been exciting, and it has been a proud moment for Chris and the Blue Crew for everything they have achieved,” Mrs McFadden said.
“This was a special honour for the crew and families today, and we are all proud of them for what they have done.”
Blue Crew were also the proud winners of two other awards - the Sarawak Shield, awarded to the outstanding unit in the Minehunter, Hydrographic and Patrol Boat Force, and the Endeavour Shield for the foremost crew in hydrographical operations.
In receiving these awards, Blue Crew’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Dean Battilana noted that the awards recognised an outstanding crew that had risen to every challenge.
“I didn’t believe it when my crew told me we had won the Duke of Gloucester’s Cup, as a hydrographic crew has never previously won this award,” he said.
“To be recognised for our achievements here in Cairns, with our families present, has been a significant honour.
“We were enormously honoured that His Royal Highness took the time to make the presentation, and spent time with my crew and our families,” Lieutenant Commander Battilana said.
Blue Crew is currently embarked in HMAS Melville and will continue hydrographic operations after a brief maintenance period.