The Royal Navy are delighted to confirm they are sending one of their most advanced warships, the destroyer HMS Daring, to represent the UK at the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review (IFR) this October.
Daring is a Type 45 warship based in Portsmouth, UK with a ship’s company of 190 men and women who are busily exercising in the Pacific en route to Australia.
The IFR will be biggest event the Royal Navy has participated in outside of the UK in several years. Similar in grandeur on their home shores was the 2012 Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 200 year anniversary celebration of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005.
The Royal Navy’s IFR Liaison Officer LT Rob “Kerry” Packer is working in the British High Commission in Canberra for six months on the UK’s involvement in the IFR.
“As the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Anzac participated in the UK’s own International Fleet Review and Festival of the Sea in Portsmouth in 2005, this is a fantastic opportunity to reciprocate.”
“It is an honour for the UK to mark the occasion that is 100 years since the Fleet first entered Sydney Harbour in 1913,” said LT Packer.”
“Just like the members of the RAN and indeed many others from around the globe, the IFR is a once in a life time opportunity for those who serve.”
“To be part of the RAN centenary celebration is something the ship’s company will be telling their families about for years to come,” said LT Packer.
“The ship’s company are excited to be visiting such distant and interesting locations; they are the envy of many back home.”
The participating Royal Navy members feel very strongly about their involvement in the special celebration and the showcase of naval capability.
“I am firmly of the belief that we should never forget our historical or traditional roots. The UK - Australian Naval bond, goes back centuries and this is exemplified in the close similarities between our Armed Forces,” said LT Packer.
When asked what the most challenging aspect of the IFR will be for the UK team Kerry said it is the sheer scale of the event.
“An activity like this requires close coordination between ships to ensure we enter Sydney Harbour in the right positions at the right time, which is a challenge and privilege for the ship’s Navigator,” said LT Packer.
“It’s an incredible evolution to send a ship around the world; there’s a heavy amount of logistical planning that goes into it, but we have been doing it for centuries and it’s what we’re trained for.”
When asked what the highlight of the IFR will be Kerry said it’s hard to choose.
“The whole thing is an opportunity to experience what being a sailor is all about in the modern Navy. Being part of the RN is something very special.”
“The Fleet Review itself, the fireworks barges, the receptions, the march through Sydney City and the sporting events will all be high points,” said LT Packer.
Sporting rivalry has been strong between the two countries since one could first throw a ball at the other. LT Packer is hoping a third round of a Navy ‘ashes’ contest can be played-off while Daring is down under.
When an Australian warship HMAS Anzac came to the UK in 2005 for the UK IFR, a cricket trophy was created which Anzac won. The two nations then played another fixture in 2009 when HMA Ships Ballarat and Sydney visited Portsmouth in 2009 as part of their Exercise Northern Trident. The UK won that match.
“The trophy is currently on Daring with the hope one or two games can be played while the ships are alongside to keep the tradition going,” said LT Packer.
Much to the delight of the general public and warship enthusiasts, when Daring is alongside in Sydney, she will hold two open days during the IFR. Public Open days in Daring are always a popular event in the UK and Royal Navy is hoping there will be even more interest in Australia.
“I think it is a great chance for all involved to mix operationally and socially with members of other countries on official and unofficial levels,” said LT Packer.
“This global deployment as a whole will bind the Ship’s Company into a really close team, almost a family, and these bonds and friendships will last a life time.”
“I think they will all have many great memories to take home and cherish for the years to come.”
Imagery of HMS Daring is available on the Royal Navy website.
More information on the IFR can be found at http://www.navy.gov.au/ifr.