On 24 January 2014, Commander Paul Gall assumed command of HMAS Penguin, in Sydney, and since that point it has been all hands on deck. Penguin being heavily involved with the community, participated in a large number of community engagement events throughout the year.
Early in the year, divers from the Royal Australian Navy Dive School at Penguin entered as a team for the Balmoral Swim for Cancer and then Penguin played host to the Youth Leadership Forum which provided a unique opportunity for some year 11 and 12 high school students to meet with personnel and discuss the opportunities available in Navy.
In May, personnel from Penguin volunteered to support the annual Humpty Dumpty Foundation’s Balmoral Burn, lending a hand to set up equipment such as marquees as well as providing lunch as a prize at the gala dinner. The race has upward of 10,000 participants running, walking and crawling 420 metres up Awaba Street, Sydney's steepest street. The Humpty Dumpty Foundation raises money to purchase vital children’s medical equipment for over 200 children’s hospitals and health service centres across Australia. It is their aim to ensure every child has a fighting chance to the best possible medical equipment and care. Navy personnel also helped raise $10,000 towards the foundation.
Other community engagement events included the Manly Relay for Life and also making the Annual Penguin Gate to Gate run a 'White Ribbon event' as part of White Ribbon Day, thereby raising funds in support of the national movement to prevent viloence against women.
The annual Penguin Community Reception and Ceremonial Sunset on 13 November, showed community leaders the talents of the Royal Australian Navy Band - Sydney Detachment, along with the HMAS Penguin guard as they performed 'Beat to Quarters', a traditional naval ceremony which dates back to the age of sail. Imagery of the Community Reception and Ceremonial Sunset is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143605.
Impressed with the effort from Penguin personnel over the past year, Commander Paul Gall reflected on the base's community engagement program.
"Penguin has always enjoyed a strong Community Engagement program and this year has been no different.
"It culminated with the ceremonial sunset which was very well received and was a fitting climax to the year with the band putting on a great show along with the guard made up of Penguin's ship's company. Of note was having the three mayors from Mosman, Manly and Warringah attend and it certainly was a spectacle to end what has been a busy and dynamic year," Commander Gall said.
The establishment has undergone many changes during the year, with the Royal Australian Navy Dive School and Submarine Underwater Medicine Unit moving into new facilities.
The Officer in Charge of the Royal Australian Navy Dive School, Lieutenant Commander Russ Crawford said, since opening in February the new facility has trained over 400 Defence personnel. On 30 October the refurbished Diving Training Facility Pool was officially opened.
“This facility allows all Defence divers to commence initial diving in a safe environment,” Lieutenant Commander Crawford said.
Penguin has trained many Navy personnel over the years and it is terrific to do so with new training facilities that includes the dive training pool, which will able to be used by all ship's personnel.
The team at HMAS Penguin looks forward to another year of raising, training and sustaining members of the Royal Australian Navy and lending a helping hand in support of the local community.