An officer who came up through the ranks is paying off in October after almost 46 years’ service.
An expert with the Royal Australian Navy Test Evaluation and Acceptance Authority at Garden Island, Lieutenant Commander Trevor Gibson joined Navy in January 1971 and was posted to the 34th Intake at the HMAS Leeuwin Junior Recruit Training Establishment.
He said both his parents served in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War and his older brother Tony was already serving in the Navy.
“Tony told me all the ‘good’ stories about being ‘up-top’, South-East Asia mainly, when he was home on leave,” he said.
Lieutenant Commander Gibson said he always saw the Navy as a long-term career and enjoyed the camaraderie and security of his position.
“I was promoted to Ordinary Seaman 12 months after finishing my studies and I was interested in being a communicator.
“In 1972, I was posted to the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne before going to HMAS Cerberus to study as a radio operator.
“Early in 1974, I transferred to the relatively new branch of Radio Operator Electronic Warfare rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer in 1981, and holding that rank for five years.”
Although Lieutenant Commander Gibson served in several ships, including HMA Ships Melbourne (II), Yarra (III), Torrens (II), Vampire (II), Perth (II) and Canberra (II), he said his favourite ship was HMAS Hobart (II).
“Hobart was one of three Perth Class Guided-Missile Destroyers built for the Navy based on the US Navy’s Charles F Adams Class,” he said.
“She looked like and felt like a warship, with a displacement of 3370 tonnes and an overall length of 134.19m.
“She had an advertised speed of 35 knots, but I’ve been on board when we got her up to 37 knots.”
With the exception of lieutenant commander, Lieutenant Commander Gibson served in Hobart for every rank he held, from Able Seaman to Lieutenant.
He said HMAS Fremantle also had a special place for him.
“Fremantle was my first ship as Commanding Officer in 1999, when we did a south west Pacific tour and Operation CRANBERRY,” he said.
Lieutenant Commander Gibson has experienced many highlights in his career, but two stand out more than the rest.
“A personal highlight was having my Mum and Dad at my passing-out parade at HMAS Creswell when I became an officer in 1986,” he said.
“Professionally, a highlight was seeing all my hard work come to fruition in getting the upgraded frigates accepted into operational service.”
Lieutenant Commander Gibson said the Navy had come a long way since he joined.
“A plethora of positive changes have come over the years,” he said.
“Putting the safety of a ship and crew first; removing bullies who held senior positions; acceptance of women into sea-going positions, including command; and amalgamation of our shipmates who are from different backgrounds and cultures, are just a few.”
Lieutenant Commander Gibson’s parting message for young sailors is to work hard, but have fun.
“Make sure you don’t forget about the fun bit,” he said.
“Some will have a chance to travel the world and see fantastic places and events, just like the Navy flier says.
“There may well be times when you, and your shipmates, face uncertain, even dangerous situations - listen to your seniors, lead from the front, follow the rules, be safe and behave in accordance with the values of our Navy.
“Do that and you will earn, and keep, the trust and respect of your shipmates, your Navy and Australia.
Lieutenant Commander Gibson’s retirement plans include taking his wife on a well-deserved holiday to the Mediterranean.
“I also have a five-point plan to execute - you have to have at least five things to do in retirement, some by yourself and some with others, or else your brain goes to mush and you die,” he said.