When Queensland kid Gerald Savvakis joined the Australian Navy Cadets, he never imagined he would one day return to where it all began as a fully-fledged Navy Commander.
It’s often a Navy Cadet’s dream to join the Royal Australian Navy, serve in a warship and see the world. Gerald Savvakis made the dream a reality.
Now, having achieved the rank of Commander, he serves as the Commanding Officer of HMAS Moreton in Brisbane.
In the late 1970s, Cadet Savvakis was a Signalman and attained the rank of Cadet Leading Seaman.
With a vision of a career in the Navy, he joined as a Junior Recruit through HMAS Leeuwin.
The skills he had acquired as a Navy Cadet provided him with a solid foundation, but he could never have predicted how his career would play out.
Born and raised in Brisbane, Commander Savvakis has a long affinity with South East Queensland. To find himself returning to the area as its Senior Naval Officer is a unique experience and he feels it’s almost too perfect to be a coincidence - it seems more pre-ordained.
Gerald Savvakis served at sea as a Signalman in HMA Ships Tobruk (II), Stalwart (II), Jervis Bay, Darwin and Parramatta (IV), before returning to shore as Commander Australian Naval Support Command at HMAS Kuttabul and HMAS Moreton.
A break in his career allowed time to study and start a family, and he then re-joined the Navy in 1996 to undertake the New Entry Officers’ Course at HMAS Creswell, pursuing a career as a Seaman Officer.
Commander Savvakis remembers seeing the Commanding Officer of HMAS Moreton when he was a Cadet, and thinking “he must be important!”
“If I could now stand beside a young version of myself, remembering that, and seeing where I am now, it’s just unbelievable,” Commander Savvakis said.
The Australian Navy Cadets provides young people with a structured program focussed on leadership, team building and self-development. It plays an influential role in their lives, especially for those pursuing a career in the Royal Australian Navy.
“I cannot understate the affect Navy Cadet Instructors can have on a young person,” Commander Savvakis said.
“They instil values, responsibility and a strong sense of community.
“They are important in shaping the lives of Cadets, which prepares them going forward as young adults.
“A significant mentor for me as a Cadet was Australian Navy Cadets Captain Ian Fraser. I now attend functions representing the Navy and Ian is often there representing Cadets.
“As a Cadet I looked up to him, he instilled values as a mentor and was instrumental in where I am today.
“I’m proud of my time at Training Ship Gayundah and what that represents to the Navy with its rich history.
“Cadets needs Instructors of good standing, and to some degree a broad understanding of the Royal Australian Navy, to impart that knowledge; otherwise it would be just another youth scheme.
“I appreciate attracting adult members to regularly give their time and pass on their experience and knowledge is a challenge, however good instructors are critical for Cadets of the future,” Commander Savvakis said.
Australian Navy Cadets are currently seeking Cadets and Cadet Instructors. For more information visit: https://www.navycadets.gov.au.