Penguin turns 78 years young

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABIS Benjamin Ricketts (photographer), LSBM Bradley Reyonlds (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin, Naval Heritage and History

The youngest sailor on base, Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Chelsea Calderbank, centre, holds the Base's life ring with ship's company during celebrations for HMAS Penguin's 78th birthday. (photo: ABIS Benjamin Ricketts)
The youngest sailor on base, Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Chelsea Calderbank, centre, holds the Base's life ring with ship's company during celebrations for HMAS Penguin's 78th birthday.

Taking time out from their busy schedule, the officers, sailors and civilian staff of HMAS Penguin have celebrated the Sydney establishment’s 78th birthday.

A small socially distant gathering was held on the water’s edge where those attending formed the number 78.

They listened as local Indigenous Elder Neil Evers conducted a Welcome to Country.

He also thanked Penguin for its role as a supporter of the local community and the region’s heritage.

“I thank HMAS Penguin for the respect the Australian Navy pays to the Aboriginal people and the legacy of Bungaree,” Mr Evers said.

A brief history of Penguin was read by Seaman Boatswains Mate Joshua Bishenden.

“Preparing for today I learnt of the Navy’s history of the name ‘Penguin’ and those before her going back to 1757.

“It is an honour to present that history here today,” Seaman Bishenden said.

For the Executive Officer of HMAS Penguin, Lieutenant Commander Malcolm Bonehill, the event was a reward and recognition for the effort and commitment on display from the ship’s company.

“We are very busy as we have 15 resident units with additional units joining over the next 12 months, all the staff working above and beyond to deliver a high standard of service to those onboard that we support,” he said.

“It is great to take time out to celebrate our birthday and also to acknowledge the local community, who also supports everything we do here at Penguin,” Lieutenant Commander Bonehill said.

A morning tea was held after a short ceremony, and a birthday cake was presented to honour the occasion.

The Executive Officer was joined by the youngest crew member of Penguin, Seaman Hydrographic Survey Operator Chelsea Calderbank, to cut the cake.

“This has been a fun celebration, everyone loves chocolate cake,” Seaman Calderbank said.

Penguin was commissioned as a Royal Australian Navy Establishment on 14 July 1942, on the site of the Balmoral Naval Hospital.

Its primary role today is to provide trained personnel to the Fleet and is the home of the Australian Defence Force Diving School (ADFDS), the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic School, the Royal Australian Navy Medical School and 12 other resident units.