As guests arrived for the commissioning of the Royal Australian Navy’s newest ship on 28 November, they began to appreciate the size of the Landing Helicopter Dock.
Across the expanse of the heavy vehicle deck they could see the huge stern door that can be lowered to flood the well dock to enable the ship’s four landing craft to enter and exit carrying personnel, equipment, vehicles or any number of combinations as required.
The crew, in full ceremonial uniform with medals and boots gleaming, flanked their guests and as the band played, the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove inspected the 24 member guard.
Speeches were made and prayers said and as the ship was declared commissioned the Australian White Ensign was run up the ensign staff for the first time by Leading Seaman Communications Information Systems Stewart Thurlow.
“I remember receiving a briefing during recruit training back in 2009,” Leading Seaman Thurlow said.
“It was a White Paper presentation on the introduction of the LHD and I remember thinking how much I would love to be part of the commissioning crew.
“Not only having been able to do that, but to have such an important role today as raising the Australian White Ensign for the first time makes it even more special.”
Canberra’s Commanding Officer Captain Jonathan Sadleir said he was both humbled and blessed to play a part in this significant moment in history.
“The most amazing thing to me is the unrivalled pride and passion the ship’s company have displayed even before taking custody of the ship,” Captain Sadleir said.
“I can only imagine what we can achieve together as we take Canberra forward from this point on.
“I look forward to taking her to sea as a ship’s company for the first time in the coming weeks and commencing the next journey towards achieving full operational capability," he said.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143517.