Submariners past and present gathered for the Lost Submariners Memorial Service at the Rockingham Navy Club in Western Australia recently, as they remembered submariners whose lives were lost during their service.
The National President of the Submarines Association Australia, Commodore Bob Trotter, OAM, RAN (Ret’d) was in attendance along with Commander Submarines, Captain Doug Theobald, CSC, RAN as they jointly hosted the commemoration to those “still on patrol”.
Despite the threat of inclement weather numbers attending were strong, giving a firm indication of the importance of this commemoration.
Mr Reece Whitby, MLA was in attendance, representing the Premier of Western Australia, along with the Mayor of Rockingham, Mr Barry Sammels.
Commodore Trotter gave the Welcome Address and noted that submariners become part of a community that most people can never imagine, one characterised by a dangerous working environment where men and women, act, think and endure as one.
“It takes a submariner to understand the work environment of service in submarines; submariners enjoy a unique “esprit de corps” and forge relationships that endure beyond their career, they are forever “buddies in boats,” Commodore Trotter said.
Commander Submarines, Captain Doug Theobald gave a moving tribute to those lost in the service of their country and those lost more recently who were a vital part of the submarine community.
“Although we have not lost a submariner at sea for over 30 years the voyage has not been all smooth sailing and we have lost brothers and sisters along the way, whose names do not grace the walls of memorials or appear on any honour roll.
“They are no longer with us but their names, their faces, their achievements and their exploits are remembered,” Captain Theobald said.
Captain Theobald said it was an honour to participate in the day’s events, noting it was a community of ordinary strangers, drawn together to honour those who had been lost.
“Today we honour those we lost, never knowing how much they would be missed. While you may feel the loss is yours, you do not bear it alone, for your loved ones were our brothers and sisters, and will always be so. And we mourn, and we remember, and we reflect, with you.” Captain Theobald said.
As the last post played and wreaths were laid, storm clouds made way for blue sky just in time for tots and an afternoon of reminiscing amongst submariners old and new.
Notably this year’s event was of special significance in that it was held only a number of weeks after the passing of Vice Admiral Ian Donald George MacDougall, AC, RAN, Australia’s most senior submariner, former Chief of Navy, and patron of the Submarines Association Australia.