Navy has provided special transport in the form of helicopter and Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat for the Queen’s Baton which is travelling around Australia in readiness for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
HMAS Albatross Commanding Officer, Captain Fiona Sneath was responsible for the baton’s journey from Kiama to Nowra and arrived in style at the Kiama Community Celebration, swooping in to collect the baton in a MH-60R Romeo helicopter from 816 Squadron.
Captain Sneath and the baton were then flown to Nowra where the helicopter landed on the banks of the Shoalhaven River and was then ferried across the river in a Royal Australian Navy Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat before handing the baton on for its journey through Nowra.
Captain Sneath described her participation in the Baton Relay as a 'career highlight'.
“The relay is a significant national and international event, but it was also a wonderful opportunity for the local Shoalhaven community to be involved in the Games and showcase the region.
“I’m honoured to been selected to carry the baton,” she said.
“My nomination as a baton bearer was encouraged by the Commander of the Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn, and supported by the Shoalhaven City Council. It is a tangible example of the integration and respect that Navy and HMAS Albatross have in the local community as well as demonstrating the unity and support that exists between the Navy elements in the region.
“While I personally carried the baton, I was supported by many staff, both visible and behind the scenes, in making this happen – including the Fleet Air Arm and 816 SQN, HMAS Creswell who provided the transfer RHIB, and by my Buffer Petty Officer Mark Rigney who acted as boat coxswain, and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Shaun Remfry who was bowman.
“They ensured I made it safely across the river with the baton, watched by members of the ships company who cheered me along on the day.
I am proud and excited and consider it my most memorable ‘day in the office’ yet!“
HMAS Albatross was well represented among the 3800 baton bearers charged with carrying the Queen’s Baton throughout Australia in the relay leading up to the opening ceremony of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Baton bearers were chosen for their ability to inspire others with their passion and commitment to their community, a job description perfectly tailored for 725 Squadron Sensor Operator Petty Officer Liam Carruthers, Navy Community Engagement Co-ordinator Leading Seaman Jan Gilmour and Albatross Commanding Officer Captain Fiona Sneath.
Petty Officer Carruthers, accompanied by an honor guard from 725, carried the baton through the Squadron's adopted city of Coffs Harbour. He said he was privileged and thankful for the recognition which also celebrated 725 Squadron’s strong links with the Coffs Harbour community.
"For me personally to be entrusted to carry the Queen's message on its journey was a proud achievement. I pride myself on being fit and always aim to be at the peak of performance of all evolutions I am involved with so it was also a great opportunity to share that passion.”
Leading Seaman Jan Gilmour is a very familiar face in the Shoalhaven community most especially through her tireless work coordinating community engagement events and work experience programs introducing students to career paths in the Navy.
Leading Seaman Gilmour said her involvement in the relay is something she will still be talking about “when I am old and grey and in a nursing home.”
“I remember when I was in primary school starting each day with my hand over my heart enthusiastically singing God Save the Queen. She is such an amazing woman and a real inspiration to me, and I still having trouble believing that I was responsible for carrying the Queen’s message as part of the Commonwealth Games.
“I have represented Defence in competitive sport myself, and that personal experience allows me to see that the Games are not just about the sport, not just the people participating in it or the people watching it. An event like the Games is a unifying one and connects hearts and souls. I am very excited to have played a part in that and now have my own little place in history.”
Imagery is available via the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20180148.