All aboard for fleet family day

Published on LCDR Chloe Wootten (author), POIS Paul Berry (photographer)

Location(s): Barangaroo, Sydney, Garden Island, Sydney

Topic(s): HMAS Parramatta (F154), International Fleet Review

Thousands of Sydneysiders flock to see HMS Daring (pictured), HMAS Parramatta and USS Chosin during the warship open day at Barangaroo. (photo: POIS Paul Berry)
Thousands of Sydneysiders flock to see HMS Daring (pictured), HMAS Parramatta and USS Chosin during the warship open day at Barangaroo.

Despite Vice-Regal attendance, spectacular pyrotechnics displays and a Prince, the highlight for many visitors to the International Fleet Review was getting up close and personal with the technology of a modern Navy.

Sunday 6 October was the first open day for 20 ships of the international fleet berthed alongside wharves in Sydney Harbour - providing a rare insight into life at sea.

Barangaroo wharf was host to a heavy hitting international delegation of British destroyer HMS Daring and the American cruiser USS Chosin, with Australian warship HMAS Parramatta (IV) providing the Royal Australian Navy’s presence.

The 50,000 tickets sold out early and an estimated 5000 people poured through the ships at Barangaroo on the first glorious Sydney afternoon, showcasing cutting edge military technology for young and old alike.

Guests were given an insight into ship-borne fire-fighting and damage repair, what happens on the bridge of a warship and a lucky few viewed life from the Captain’s chair.

Alexandra from Sydney lined up to take a look at the ships, describing the access as “amazing”.

"Coming on board a working warship and letting the Australian public to see how it all happens, makes this a real experience for Australians,” she said.

The O’Connor family travelled from Canberra for the International Fleet Review suggested that the wait to get onboard has been well worth it.

"It’s been a tremendous credit to the Navy and the organisers for putting this on. It's a really fantastic event, well done,” they said.

Garden Island also opened the gates to a flood of onlookers, seeking to get a first-hand experience of the ships helping celebrate 100 years since the first Royal Australian Navy feet entered Sydney Harbour in 1913.

Singaporean ship RSS Endeavour, New Zealand Anzac Class Frigate HMNZS Te Mana, Spanish replenishment vessel ESPS Cantabria, Japanese warship JDS Makanami and Nigerian patrol boat NNS Thunder opened their gangways to the public.

Australian ships Tobruk, Success, Darwin, Stuart and Sydney were hosts to five hours of enthusiastic sightseers, many of them potentially a future sailor or officer.

Midshipman Aaron McCarthy was in the thick of the crowd helping the visitors transit the Island, handing out Australian White Ensigns and clip-on koalas to the masses.

“We’ve had plenty of international guests, locals and people who have friends or family in the services - it’s been a great day!” he said.