Coonawarra impresses at Mindil Beach sunset ceremony

This article has photo gallery This article has a video attachmentPublished on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), SSGT Jordan Gilbert (photographer)

Location(s): Mindil Beach, NT

Topic(s): Ceremonial Divisions, Ceremonial Sunset, HMAS Coonawarra, Navy Week

Members of a ceremonial guard prepare to fire volleys during a Sunset Ceremony performed by HMAS Coonawarra at Mindil Beach, Darwin, NT. (photo: SSGT Jordan Gilbert)
Members of a ceremonial guard prepare to fire volleys during a Sunset Ceremony performed by HMAS Coonawarra at Mindil Beach, Darwin, NT.

The Darwin community turned out in droves to watch more than 100 officers and sailors from HMAS Coonawarra perform Ceremonial Divisions and a Sunset Ceremony at the iconic Mindil Beach recently.

Commander Shore Force, Captain Stephen Bowater, was the reviewing officer for the ceremony, which has become a highlight of the annual Navy Week in the Northern Territory.

Commanding Officer Coonawarra, Commander Darren Rushworth said the Royal Australian Navy had a “proud history and an exciting future in Darwin.”

“Our sailors and officers have stood side-by-side the local community during the Bombing of Darwin, Cyclone Tracey and Cyclone Marcus,” he said.

“Navy will continue to rely on northern Australia to conduct essential operations, such as border protection, and to stage major multilateral exercises, such as Exercise KAKADU.

“Every officer and sailor involved in the ceremonial divisions and sunset ceremony feels proud right now, and I hope everyone in Darwin who witnessed it feels proud of them as well.”

 

It was only the second time the traditional ceremony had been performed on Mindil Beach.

Ceremonial Divisions musters the ship’s company in their best uniforms for inspection by a reviewing senior officer. Sunset Ceremony is also steeped in tradition and honours the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who have served during war and peace.

Sunset Ceremony is preceded by a Beat to Quarters played by the Royal Australian Navy Band, a practice that dates back centuries to the age of sail when a ship’s drums were beaten to summon men to quarters or action stations when battle was imminent.

At five minutes to sunset, the Evening Hymn is played and followed by a volley of blank shots fired by the guard, echoing an old practice of saluting the knell of parting day.

Navy Week runs from 5-10 August and is HMAS Coonawarra’s way of thanking the local community for its ongoing support to the local servicemen and women.

The officers and sailors of Coonawarra will reunite at 10am on Saturday 10 August to conduct a Freedom of Entry Parade along Knuckey Street in Darwin City.

Visitors and locals are encouraged to attend and show their support.