It was a day dedicated to celebrating Navy’s traditions and heritage at HMAS Albatross, when more than 700 personnel formed up for ceremonial divisions and inspection by Head of Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Michael Uzzell, and Albatross Commanding Officer, Captain Simon Bateman.
Divisions is a tradition that provides opportunity for commanding officers to review their ship’s company on parade. Immaculate dress, bearing and discipline are all important components of the ceremony.
Rear Admiral Uzzell assured those assembled they passed muster on all counts.
“When you look at everything going on, there are exciting times ahead. The introduction of the new MH60R and the development of the Helicopter Aircrew Training School will make Nowra a hub for a lot of positive changes in taking new platforms forward,” he said.
“However, with existing capabilities and opportunities come demanding responsibilities. What we do, what you do, is not easy, and there will be a lot of shared responsibilities. Everyone here has the responsibility of making this enormously complex and sophisticated machine, our naval force, work to its best, and from what I’ve seen today I’ll be happy to inform Chief of Navy that Albatross and the Fleet Air Arm are up to this task.”
Following Divisions, Rear Admiral Uzzell joined guests at the Fleet Air Arm Museum to mark the 40th anniversary of the museum’s founding.
Captain Bateman said it was very fitting to combine the celebration of this significant milestone with divisions.
“You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been and this museum, the collection it holds, the memories it contains, the people it honours, offer us some very real and poignant reminders about those who have served before us.”
“It’s very important to keep up traditions. When you walk around the parade ground you get a real sense of the pride of those in uniform and its great to follow that with this celebration here in the heart of Naval Aviation, the Fleet Air Arm Museum, which does a fantastic job of keeping our history alive,” Captain Bateman said.
Commodore Andrew Robertson, had the idea of establishing the Museum in 1974, when he was Commanding Officer of Albatross. He appointed a young Leading Seaman, Glen Dore, as the first curator. Mr Dore worked with a very energetic team of Navy volunteers to develop a small collection of naval aviation relics and five obsolete Navy aircraft into a museum.
Delivering the anniversary address, Mr Dore said he was very proud of his association with the museum.
“The museum is an absolute marvel and it’s amazing to see how it’s grown from such humble beginnings,"he said.
Museum Manager and Senior Curator, Mr Terry Hetherington, said the fact the museum was now a world class institution was due to the efforts of a team of dedicated staff and volunteers and the enthusiastic support of a succession of commanding officers.
“I can’t stress enough the role the Albatross commanding officers have played in nurturing the museum’s growth,” Mr Hetherington said.
“Starting with Commodore Robertson’s original flash of inspiration, but I would also have to single out Commodore Toz Dadswell, for his work during the difficult times in the 1980s when the Fleet Air Arm was shifting its focus away from aircraft carrier operations.”
As part of the anniversary, the museum received an important symbol of joint maritime air power when the Director of Air Force Heritage, Group Captain Dave Richardson, presented the fuselage and cockpit assembly of a retired RAAF F-111 fighter bomber.
“This gift not only represents a physical addition to the museum’s collection, it also demonstrates the maturity of the cooperative relationship shared by Defence museums,” Mr Hetherington said.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum is adjacent to HMAS Albatross. More informaiton can be found at their website - http://www.navy.gov.au/fleet-air-arm-museum.