Rarely do the public get a chance to stroll around the forecastle and flight deck of a warship, until now. HMA Ships Anzac, Arunta, HMNZ Ship Te Kaha and JDS Kirisame rolled out their welcome mats, ball-caps and memorabilia for the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event Ship's Open Day on 2 November.
Reminiscent of the 1914 ANZAC troops marching to their transports, visitors ignored the curious seagulls and walked along the unspoiled foreshore and mustered below the gangways to join the naval ships now anchored in the Albany Port.
The Turner family from Perth said that the journey to Albany was well worth the effort.
“You don’t get to see a warship too often and particularly to see a Japanese destroyer is a rare event. We are trying to teach our kids the role of the Navy and the Defence force of our nation. The whole weekend has been a celebration of what has been achieved over the last one hundred years. It is fascinating to see how modern warfare is carried out and the diagrams of missiles and that bullets are still used I found very interesting,” Mr Turner said.
Comments throughout the day included the 'Tardis-like' dimensions of modern warships, surprise at the relaxing surrounds of the mess decks and how excited people were to see things up-close.
Of particular interest, Kirisame, a Murasame class destroyer, with the Hinomaru or ‘circle of the sun’ flag fluttering in the breeze, attracted enthusiasts alike - especially with her unique angled superstructure and SH-60J Seahawk clawing to the flight deck.
Around 12,000 people navigated their way through the decks appreciating the ‘home away from home’ environment exploring the operations room, sleeping spaces and mess decks.
It had been enjoyable experience engaging with the public for Able Seaman Rebecca Stanley.
“Everyone could come aboard and get an understanding of life at sea. The day provided insight for the cadets on their decision to join the Navy. For the young kids, it’s was a day that they will remember forever,” Able Seaman Stanley said.
In the galley the visitors were explained that cooks’ use the freshest and most diverse ingredients, with ships regularly re-supplied while out at sea. A few decks above, the view from the bridge command platform provided a perfect photo opportunity for visitors to capture the sheer magnitude of the ships and dazzling view out to Princess Royal Harbour.
On Arunta, onlookers were explained how the flight deck was transformed by Navy Physical Training Instructors into a fitness class environment.
Another visitor from the Great Southern region of Kojunup, Western Australia, Trish Norris said she was fortunate to see the Navy on display.
“I felt very privileged and special to be able to go on board the warships that are here in Albany and to see the sailors at their workstations and to hear them talk so professionally about their work. I had some brilliant conversations with them. We are very lucky to have the sailors that I met today looking after us,” Ms Norris said.
Ship Open Day imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143244.