At Sea on HMAS ADELAIDE by Cath Hpr

Written by AHQ

15 November 2023


So, when you think of going on a cruise what comes to mind? The cruise ships to choose from-Princess or Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard Cruises, or Celebrity cruises.

What about the largest ship in the Royal Australian Navy- HMAS Adelaide? Well, that was the unique and wonderful opportunity I had to go on a three day cruise to Eden on HMAS Adelaide.


HMAS Adelaide and FLYCO

Well, you must be wondering how I got this amazing opportunity. To go back in time, to July last year 2022, when I had dinner at Jan-Maree’s home to meet and personally present my recipient with his bespoke quilt and laundry bag. I had picked the request off the request list, who knew what would happen with that request. He is a FLTLT Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force currently assigned to HMAS Adelaide. He said that when Adelaide had a family event, he would invite me. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I received a message would I like to go on a three day cruise to Eden. To say I was stunned and gobsmacked was an understatement!

HMAS Adelaide had been in for a maintenance period and a week before we were to set out to sea, it was still unsure if her engines would be signed off to sail. The day before we were set to sail the engineers did a wonderful job working tirelessly days before to get the engines up and running so that the engines were signed off and we could sail. As we had to be at Fleet Base East HMAS Kuttabul at 7am Jan-Maree kindly and generously offered that she would take me in and that I could stay the night. Due to excitement, I had trouble going to sleep and woke up at 4am and could not go back to sleep. I had to be up at 5am anyway.

We had a quick and smooth trip in. Thank goodness Jan-Maree knows where she is going. So, in ahead of time we sat in the office watching the contractors going in, crew members and then outside seeing families roll up with their little bags. There were 180 family and guests that were invited on board. Had my name marked off while sitting waiting in the office by a crew member that later on I was to make connect with for my sister as he is a friend of a friend of my sister who lives in Perth, and he fly over to catch up with his Navy buddy only weeks before.

Keeping an eye out for my recipient out of the office window we spotted him with his little brother 13years and sister 8 years. Eight years is the minimum age to be on board. The families had gathered and there were lots of children with a range of ages. We then farewelled Jan-Maree and walked around over a temporary bridge which is where they put ships into dry dock and on around the back of the base to where Adelaide was moored.

Upon walking up the gang plank it was then the workout of stairs started. The stair wells are steep metal steps with narrow treads. It is here that the cardio workout starts as you go from one deck to another. A stairwell on board ship is called a trunking. It is numbered system showing the deck and where it is located in the ship.

My recipient took me to my cabin on deck two, to drop off my suitcase. I had the cabin to myself with a tiny ensuite and the tiniest shower I have ever experienced, only enough room to turn around. Ladies you could not shave your legs in this tiny shower. The water would spill over the little metal lip into the ensuite, wetting the floor. I set up my bed with a quilt I had made as my recipient had told me the air conditioning is rather fresh. The phone in cabin and elsewhere in the ship have magnets to hold the handpiece onto the base. I then went around the corner and down the corridor a little to my recipients cabin to meet up and we went out onto the flight deck to check it out and view Sydney harbour.





As it was United Nations Day all our ships were flying the UN flag. The front, bow of the ship was flying the Australian flag on a detachable mast and at aft the White Ensign. The mast and Australian flag are removed once we push off from the dock as it is classed as at sea. We certainly had a wonderful day of sunshine and a nautical display. We watched the RIB coming back. A RIB is a Rigid Hull Inflatable boat that is used to provide security. This craft is lower from the side of the ship. As HMAS Adelaide is an amphibious ship it takes several hours for the ship to dock down-that means flooding the back of the ship to lower it into the water to allow the LLC-landing craft to enter and exit. Adelaide has two LLC, more about those later. Then three hours to pump the water out to bring the ship up again before we could leave.


LLC coming on board

While we were waiting for the ship to dock once the LLC was on board, we got to enjoy a very rare treat. The USS Oakland had come into Sydney for a few days and came right passed us while we were on the flight deck.


Nose of USS Oakland coming around us


USS Oakland coming around HMAS Adelaide


USS OAkland and crew backing in 


Back of USS Oakland and tug

The US ship had a police escort, and they stay with ship the whole time she is berthed in Sydney. The USS Oakland is a combat ship built for speed. Her futuristic design was like something out of Jules Verne’s 20,00 Leagues Under the Sea.

The officer of the Day on HMAS Adelaide always wears a white uniform. We were up in FLYCO-Flight Control Office watching all the proceedings as the crew prepared to pipe and show courtesy to USS Oakland as she passed us and piped us first. This is the appropriate, correct procedure to show respect to a ship. It was not surprising that the American ship failed to pipe HMAS Adelaide first as is the customary response. So, HMAS Adelaide could not pipe her in return. The officer of the day saluted the ship as it passed us. We watched as the crew of the USS Oakland crew in whites stood at ease as they passed us.



HMAS Adelaide is an LHD ship as is her sister ship Canberra and also HMAS Choules. That means Landing Helicopter Dock. These three ships are all amphibious and are used for humanitarian purposes. Australia does not have an aircraft carrier as we do not have aircraft that have jump capabilities.

We departed Sydney harbour later than intended. The tugs came to assist. Always fun to watch these amazing little boats do their job with these HUGE ships. We farewelled Sydney.




Leaving Sydney harbour-bridge


Sydney skyline as we leave


View from ship of Sydney harbour

We took the opportunity to go up the ramp of the ship at front and join other families, to get a birds eye view of sailing out through the heads. It was very windy as we went out the heads.


From the ramp leaving Sydney


Ramp with families as we sail out the heads


Going through the heads Sydney

After lunch we had to assemble on the LVD at the TAA. Yes, this is how they talk and how they communicate over the PA public address system. The LVD is the light vehicle deck. This is where aid containers, Utes, trucks and personal vehicles are stored. The TAA is a little green tin shed with a counter at one end of the LVD.

Here we were welcomed by the CO (Commanding Officer) Captain Troy Duggan. He told us it is normal to get lost and to ask any crew for help. He spoke about HMAS Adelaide being the friendliest ship in the Navy and that it was a positive supportive environment.


CO Captain Troy Duggen

Many of the visitors had been given by their family or sponsors an official HMAS Adelaide cap.

There was one very special cap.


CO’s Mum

Even the Captain had family on board, his Mum and his 13 year old son. Who is currently enjoying being in Air Cadets when home. I did check with different crew about Adelaide being the friendliest ship and they all backed up what the Captain said. They had worked in other environments, and this was markedly different with an encouraging, helpful environment that has been carried on from the previous Captain and stems from the top. Adelaide has this reputation amongst the other ships.

We were handed over to the crew to watch and take in the safety information while on board and watch the PowerPoint presentations, such as no running, close doors etc. Glad we were not tested on all the information that we were provided with. We were all issued with our safety glow stick a Chem light tactical light that we had to carry with us at all times. The wrapping had to be torn open for quick use if anyone fell overboard. Then you had to pull it out and snap in half to activate the light and hold it up until you were rescued. No one had to use it.


Chem Light

We were all issued with an LHD Welcome Aboard handbook with our name, who our sponsor was, where our cabin was e.g. 2-12-4-L as well as our arrival and departure dates. It contained a range of safety information, emergencies information, administration, map of evacuation points, statics of the ship and images of Australian Defence Force Ranks and Insignia. With the numbering system the first number is the deck you are on e.g. -2. Deck two is a good place to be as this is where the eating areas are, you can do the length of the ship and go from port to starboard.

The second number indicates where you are on the ship in terms of its length. The aft end (back) of the ship starts at 0 and the numbers get higher (up to 316) as you get closer to the bow (front) end of the LHD.

The third number indicates which side of the ship you are on. Compartments on the centreline are designated with a 0, those on the port side are even numbers and those on the starboard

side are odd numbers.

So, with this information then where is cabin 2-12-4-L?

Basically aft (back) of the ship on the main deck for meals and canteen. This also was the deck that most officers were on.


Cap and handbook

After our safety briefing, we had to take all our electrical appliances to be checked and tagged before we could use them.

Once this was completed, we were divided into groups for a tour of the ship. More stairs. We had a tour of the HVD Heavy Vehicle Deck where tanks and bush masters are stored. Then onto the Dentist, well the dental area near the dispensary and hospital. The ship has a full operating room, ICU, bed areas just like any other hospital for the different levels of care. As one of the nurses explained that sometimes she will allow a crew member to sleep in sick bay to get a good night’s sleep due to a snorer in their room.

When they go on humanitarian missions like when they went to Tonga Assist then the reservist doctors and nurses come on board. There is a small medical crew on board at other times. They have kits for all types of different operations including a caesarean kit which may be needed on a humanitarian mission.

We were shown the CCS Central Control Station. It is manned 24 hours a day. It is a large room that is dimly lit with computers. As this is a secure area all mobile phones and hats must be left outside.

We were shown the 8 bed cabins used when the ship is transporting an Army contingent. They have a small bathroom of two showers and two or three toilets near their cabin.

After the official tour my recipient took us up back up to FLYCO- Flight control office. More decks to pass and more stairs, it is right up the top about four steps away from the bridge.


My recipient and sibling in FLYCO

Due to his rank and position on the ship we could go up to the restricted area of FLYCO and the Bridge any time. We could go and watch what was happening on the bridge, go out the side door and look through the big telescope next the Morse lamp used for optical communication by flashes of the lamp typically using Morse code. FLYCO is a friendly place where crew from the bridge come in to use the coffee machine and have a chat. It is a perfect vantage point to see what is going on with all the windows.

My recipient explained to me that in FLYCO they check the wind speed and tell the ship to turn so the helo’s (helicopters) can take off and land. A lot of communication from FLYCO to the bridge occurs. There are eight spots on the deck for the helicopters to land. The rotor blades of the helicopters look like they are going to come in through the windows of FLYCO when they land. HMAS Adelaide has Chinook helicopters. They take up two spaces on deck, they also have Sea Hawks and Tiger helicopters. They are getting Blackhawk’s and Apache helicopters. To move the helicopters to the lower LVD deck, a section of the flight deck is lowered down with the helicopter on, from there it is moved. There are also drones on the ship which are large. The Drone pilots wear flying suits.



We ate all meals in the Ward Room Mess. This is for officers. No hats or children with hoodies are allowed in the Ward Room. There are hooks outside to hang caps. Mealtimes are breakfast 6.30am, lunch 11.30am and dinner 5.30pm. Meals are served for an hour, and you eat and get out so the next lot of people can come in. There is a midnight meal for those who are on night shift. They get the leftovers from the dinner meal.

The Ward Room Mess is carpeted, has long dining tables and chairs, not like the other mess where it is bench seats, lino floor and a much larger eating area. Some crew members are stewards and refill the water and cordial jugs on the tables and remove your plates and generally take care of you. All very nice.


Ward Room Dining Room

Breakfast options are fried eggs, only allowed two, scrambled egg, toast, porridge, pancakes one of the mornings with maple syrup. There is Greek yoghurt, fruit selections, a range of juices.

Lunch is always hot options. There are four options on the menu for lunch and dinner to choose from on the wall for you to read as you come up to the hot food. Examples were Butter Chicken with rice, Spaghetti Bolognese, Lamb Shank. Hot vegies are provided -carrots, broccoli. There was a salad bar, cold meats, cheese and bread rolls they make on board, they have a special machine in the kitchen that rolls and shapes the bread rolls so you can make a roll if you don’t want a hot meal.

Dinner again four hot options. Examples Pork belly, gravy, jacket potatoes, vegies, Sweet n Sour Pork, fried rice, Buffalo Wings. There is a selection of desserts, one only! Examples Apple and Rhubarb Crumble with custard, Strawberry Cheesecake, Iced Chocolate Cake, Ice cream. The meals were very good. You do not go hungry.

We were also allowed in the Ward Room. This is a relaxation area again only for officers. It is carpeted, has circular lounges in the corners for watching TV. It has a small bar, but no alcohol is served, only water and juice, large TV’s to watch the news, a board game table. If you know or have the game Trouble it is that game. Or if like me you played and know it as Ludo with your Nana it is the same game. You have four counters and roll the die to be the first to get all your pieces home. If you land on a space where there is an opponent’s piece you send them home. I was told there is a lot of cheating when they play this game. There was a video game Mario Cart which my recipients siblings played a game on the second night before we went back upstairs, more stairs to FLYCO to see the stars but it had become overcast on our second night.

Both stabilisers went on out first day out. They were quickly fixed. It was one of the many things that were not working properly e.g., electrical issues. It was literally one thing after another. There were no lights up in FLYCO or on the flight deck. The poor Captain kept getting messages of what else had gone wrong. So much for the maintenance. The engineers were kept busy our days at sea fixing all the things that went wrong.

I quickly developed a sway and swagger on board. I would not have passed a Police Officer walk the straight line test. This sway continued when I got home for a few days. My head kept swaying if I stood still.

On our first night my recipients siblings had trouble keeping their eyes open, so it was an early night to bed for them. I was taken to the Sailors mess for a game of Trivia. I was on the team with my recipients boss, his wife and another family member couple of the crew with their son. It was great fun. We had picture rounds. We had to guess the old movie stars, we did really well on that round. We had a caricature round. Another round we did well at. We should have played our joker on one of those rounds. There was a practical task round. You needed four team members. You were given a small difficult balloon to blow up, tie off and then using your body you had to pop the balloon with another team member. There was lots of cuddling going on. We ended up coming second.

The person running and reading the questions happened to be the person I had to find and follow up with from for my sister and her connection with his friend who is in the Navy. It’s a small world.

After Trivia walking back with my recipients boss, he showed me his Aussie Hero quilt that he had got some years back that was proudly on display on his bed. His maker was Chris. From his cabin I found my way back to my cabin for an early night as I was so tired. The corridors have red lights on at night. These are to help with night vision. There is to be no white light that can spill out of the ship so that it cannot be detected. The bridge has red light and it very dark working up there at night.

After a shower then bed, my head hit the pillow and I was out. I was warm and snug in my bunk even with the cool air conditioning. As we were aft (back) there was a lot of vibration in the room and the weapons locker vibrated all the time with a rattling sound. I was so tired it did not bother me.

Well, that was day one. A very eventful day.

Day 2

Up early to get ready and go to breakfast. From breakfast up the stairs to FLYCO to check out the view. Climbing the stairs-trunking up the four levels over and over to go to FLYCO my gluteus maximums started complaining, ouch!

The weather had changed. It was now grey and raining. We were close to Eden on the NSW south coast. We watched on the horizon whales breaching and their fins coming up and slapping the water. As we got closer to Eden harbour with had four dolphins come along the flight deck. We were in the perfect spot to watch all of this. We were excited to see all of this. We had a big day coming up. We were not able to dock at the wharf as the lines there were not right so had to moor out in the harbour. As we were to be transported onto shore via the LLC. We had to meet at the TAA on the LVD at a certain time. Now I am testing your knowledge here with the acronyms.

While Adelaide is a humanitarian ship, she is required to carry a certain amount of ammunition to protect herself. The ammunition is not stored in Sydney for security reasons. Eden harbour is our third deepest natural harbour in the southern hemisphere. Civilians are not allowed to be on the ship while the process of loading ammunition was happening for safety reasons. So, we had the day wandering in Eden.

At the set time we assembled on the LVD and waited and waited. There is a reference with Navy about time and assembling then you wait and wait and wait. The whole trip nothing went to the time plan. You must be very flexible in the Navy.

We had to make two lines and have our names marked off, just like on a school excursion. We were issued with a life jacket and ear plugs. We got to watch the back door open and see the flooded back half of the ship so that the LLC could move out. The weather had cleared into a lovely day.


Flooded back of ship


Lined up to get on LLC


Lifejackets on inside the ship on LLC


On LLC leaving the ship


Out the back door of ship


Back of Adelaide from LLC


Leaving Adelaide


Back of other LLC

As we were on the second LLC, we got to watch the first LLC go into shore only to be turned away, so we had a little tour of the bay. We had to go to a different place to disembark. We passed a variety of boats as we came into shore.


Coming into dock at EdenCrew%20member%20to%20assist%20us%20off

Crew member to assist us off


Disembarking LLC at Eden


Crew helping us off LLC

We were met by two minibuses with Navy personnel who had driven the buses down from Sydney and a local tour guide. We were taken for a short ride and highlights pointed out to us before being taken into main street. Our guide told us that this year has been the best whaling season with a range of whale species going past heading south with their calf’s.

Alighting the bus, we headed for a morning tea stop and decide on our plans for the day. We had one of the crew’s Mum join us. Her son is the navigator of the ship and could not leave. As he is the navigator his is affectionately called “Gatior” so the bridge crew named his Mum “Mumgatior” so that is what she was referred to.

Walking up the street we stopped in at an antique shop and browsed. Continuing up the street to the Eden Whaling Museum. As the Chamber of Commerce had been notified that we would be coming the crew and their siblings were given free entry to the museum. Eden has a population of 3,151. We sat and watched and very informative movie on Eden and the whaling industry there, the importance of Old Tom a killer or Orca whale and the roll he and the pod played in assisting one boat of sadly killing and harvesting whales. The whales knew the men and protected them when they fell out of the boat. My recipient’s little sister and myself had trouble keeping our eyes open during the movie. Fun fact did you know that following Australian Federation in 1901, Eden was a candidate for Australia’s capitol because of its equal distance between Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania. We toured the museum and went up the little light house there.


View form whaling museum Eden

Back down the street to the little café for lunch to then decide our next plans for the rest of the afternoon as we had to be back at 3.45pm for the LLCs to pick us up. A local came in and was talking to the lady behind the counter. It was heard him telling her that barges came in (not barges though) with tourists on them. We laughed at this comment.

We headed down to the little wooden Catholic church that Mary Mackillop started a school in.

Her mother died in a ship wreak there and the people of Eden cared for her body till Mary could come and collect her. To thank the people, she sent two nuns to start a school. So, it had a lot of history. From there we went for a walk along the board walk looking at the beautiful coastline.


View of beach at Eden

We headed back down the hill to the pickup point to meet the LLC’s and again the waiting and waiting started. Mumgatior messaged her son only to be told there were issues, and the craft would be an hour or so late. The clouds had turned grey. The wind had picked up and was blowing a cold breeze. A few of us sat on the minibus to get out of the cold and wet while we waited. There were cries when the landing craft were spotted. One of the drivers was showing off doing doughnuts before he came into shore. Coming back into the ship some people got wet from the sea spray.




LLC back door opening 


Back of LLC on our way back


Coming back into the ship, back door down

As we were late back in, dinner had to be put back to accommodate us. Due to us being late back in Bingo that was planned for the night was cancelled. After dinner we went up to FLYCO, more stairs up the trunkings, better than when I had been on HMAS Hobart with ladders and manholes to go through. We were rewarded with a whale display probably mother and calf with fin slapping. They had got the lights on the flight deck working now but lights in FLYCO were still not working. FLYCO was a social and friendly place with the Padre coming up and some crew. As I had worn my AHQ badge each day a young man spoke to me about the joy he had from selecting from the 400 laundry bags that the crew had received earlier this year. He explained that he spent a lot of time going through them until he found one, he liked. He selected a T-Rex dinosaur bag. When I spoke to any recipient, I always asked did they remember the name of their maker. His reply was there was no letter in his bag. He was disappointed as he said he wanted to reply to them as he was very excited with his bag. So important that we all follow our protocols of including a letter with everything we create for our hard-working people.

On board there were several people from overseas countries that were part of the crew for a period. A man from New Zealand in his all black uniform. An Army lady from Papua New Guinea and an Air Force man from Malaysia.

At one meal we sat with a female officer who is in charge of food supplies and logistics. Her husband and 8-year-old son were on board. She had her son working in the canteen each time it was open. He loved it and was always keen to go back. We often passed him on our way up to FLYCO and he was doing a great job. My recipient asked her could I have a tour of the kitchen and speak with staff for keeping my competencies up. She was fine and it was organised for the next day.

So, after another busy and tiring day it was early to bed for me. Well, that was day two.

Day 3

We were allowed an extra half hour sleep in as breakfast was half an hour later. On the daily orders it stated there were to be presentations for crew and a photo opportunity with Aussie Hero representative me, on the LVD and that crew were to bring their laundry bags and quilts with them to the presentation later in the day.

While eating breakfast the announcement fire, fire, fire came over the address system with the details of where the fire was located. Talking later to a family member they saw the crew don the firefighting safety equipment, head to toe with full head cover, to attend to the emergency. This was not a drill. A short while later the announcement came over the address system that there was no fire, someone had a hot shower and opened the ensuite door and let the steam out and this had set off the smoke detectors. At least we know they work.

After breakfast we headed back up to FLYCO. There was something unique happening up on the bridge that morning as we headed back to Sydney. The bridge was abuzz with activity, lots of crew and a hive of activity going on in the bridge. The CO’s Mum was sitting in the captain’s chair and Mumgatior in the only other chair silently watching what was happening. The captain was standing to the side watching what was going on and asking questions. The captain came into FLYCO and spoke to my recipient to set up a situation and to throw a whole lot of numbers to the man who was navigating the ship. He got on the phone to the bridge and in a calm manner re-laid information and numbers that the man had to deal with which could affect the course of the ship due to the wind and that the ship has to turn to accommodate the helicopter. My recipient explained what was going on through his laughing. A young man was being tested and assessed as he was going for his platform endorsement which is his license to drive the ship. A very big responsibility. My recipient was laughing as he set up a scenario and continued to provide updated information regarding the situation to the bridge via the phone in FLYCO.

I stepped into the bridge to see the proceedings, standing with others who were there watching at the back. The young man’s father was there watching. The navigator was issuing instructions to the man, the captain asked him questions had this been done, do we have information regarding certain things that were being thrown at him. He was very solemn and was giving crew instructions and they would go and check things in folders.

The captain spotted me and came over and shook my hand and thanked me for all Aussie Heroes does. He was very grateful for what they have done for his crew. We chatted for a while. I asked him if the man doing the assessment was going to pass and he said yes. He signed him off the previous night. He said that these young people get world class training and do remarkable work. The things they do at such a young age speaks so much of the quality training and responsibility they demonstrate. He spoke very highly of his people. My recipient explained all the things that the man being assessed had to deal with and make decisions about. So, I can reveal the things they threw at him, we had two subs chasing us. The call came through that we had to change course and go to Vanuatu. Yeah, with all of us on it ��. My recipient set up his scenario of a helicopter had left Newcastle and was returning to HMAS Hobart. However, the engine started running rough and the pilot could not make it back to HMAS Hobart and as we were the nearest ship he needed to land on HMAS Adelaide. While it was all very serious on the bridge there were quite a few laughs on FLYCO as new information kept being forwarded to him to deal with.

From there we went to LVD for the presentation. The crew were assembled on the deck. The table was set up with the blue ironed cloth and the awards were all laid out. The family and friends all stood around.


Crew assembly on LVDCrew%20assembled%20for%20presentation%20

Crew assembled for presentation 

You can see in the photos some crew in Army camo. When the ship is returning to port then personnel wear their service camo not the Navy one that they wear out at sea.

The crew names were read out one by one, from their position in line they verbally responded and then stepped forward. A crew member read out their achievements and the captain shook their hand and presented them with their specific achievement award. They had their photo taken with the captain then the family members joined them and had their photo taken with them. A very special time for the crew members and their families. Finally, the young man who had been put through his paces on the bridge was awarded with his platform endorsement saying he can now drive the ship.

At the completion of the award ceremony the crew were reminded to bring their laundry bags and quilts for a photo opportunity. The captain and I stood together in the middle while the crew lined up around us and with great big smiles held up their hand-crafted gifts to acknowledge and thank them for their service. I spoke with several recipients who wanted to share with me the joy and excitement of receiving these treasured items.


Group Photo

One lovely young man who is a PT (physical trainer) and helped run the Trivia night shared his experience of selecting from the 400 bags. He preferred this to having a personalized request made for him. He said it was like Christmas with so much to choose from and the air of excitement that was present. He said he thinks he went through 100 bags till he found the one he liked. One of the female stewards had her quilt and I recognized her maker. It was a stunning Kath and Kim quilt. She said she never imagined anything like it. She thought she might get some sort of small image of Kath and Kim. She got a large, appliqued image of Kath and Kim and then as she explained she had Sharon appliqued as well down in the bottom corner. She was so proud of her quilt and extoled the virtues of her maker which was Lyn R, whom I contacted once I was home to share with her the joy of her recipient.

After seeing the display from the crew, a Mum who was on our Trivia team, spoke to me about Aussie Heroes as she wanted to know more. She had not heard of them before and said she would be looking them up. She explained to me that she could not believe the amount of detail that was on the quilts. She was certainly impressed. Well, we do have amazing volunteers who work so hard to make fabulous designs to meet the recipient’s requests.

I was off for my kitchen tour before my last hot lunch. I was issued with a baker’s hat to wear that had Adelaide’s crest embroidered on it. I got to keep it and can use in the future for work. The kitchen crew member that took me around also shared his excitement of the laundry bag that he got to select from the 400. He was so pleased with it and its useful functional purpose. I saw the largest washing up sink I have ever seen. I was taken to the different prep areas, got to see the commercial cooking equipment, saw the different service areas for the different messes. Had explained the about the stores they carry. They can carry enough fresh milk for two weeks. He said the crew don’t like long life milk. Down below is a huge freezer and fridge as well as a pantry. There is a lift in the kitchen where the cardboard rubbish is removed, and the lift is used to bring food items up to the kitchen.


Food Prep in the Kitchen


Lunch Ready to Serve

I noticed when the crew were assembled for the presentation that some females had long ponytails with their hair down their backs. I thought it had to be tied up all neat. Some of the females had acrylic nails and were wearing nail polish. It was explained to me that there has been changes to allow the females to do this now. This is to encourage members to remain in the service. Some of the females said they have crazy nail days when out at sea.

So, consider our/your work life. Most of us have a set start and finish time. Some positions take work home and continue to work at home at night. For others when it is knock off then that is that for the day. Consider that for most of us we can look out a window or leave the building and experience blue skies and feel the sunshine on our bodies. Or leave the building and spend our lunch break outside in fresh air and sunshine. We look forward to weekends to pursue other things or take our kids to sporting activities or catch up with friends or family. We look forward to those public holidays where we don’t have to go to work.

Now compare that to life on a ship. There are no weekends to sleep in and do what you want. There are no windows to look of and see what the weather is doing. If something goes wrong, you fix it whether you are supposed to have finished work or not. Officers most nights are continuing to work in their cabins on computers doing more work after giving a full day of work.

Given the work the crew do and where they do it, it was interesting to find out that they may not have seen sunshine or fresh air for a week. They must go up onto the back of the LVD deck or flight deck but consider this- helicopters taking off and landing, machinery being moved. So that does not make it easy to go outside and experience fresh air and sunshine. Thus, Vitamin D supplementation is needed. The support and comradery, the crazy nail days, the trivia nights are the things that connect and unite the crew together. No door is locked there is such a level of trust. Walking past cabins you see the personal touches such as the bed sheets, a quilt, stuffed animals on the bed or even an amazing fancy light display on the wall next the person’s bunk that we saw. People acknowledge you in passing and there is always someone there to help.

We watched from the back of the LVD the crew tie up Adelaide right outside the base office with USS Oakland moored behind us. It was time to collect our luggage and disembark the ship and back to our normal lives.


USS Oakland berth at Fleet Base East


Coming into berth with USS Oakland behind

Next year HMAS Canberra will be in for maintenance and so HMAS Adelaide with be the ship to go to any emergency situations. I wish the amazing crew fair winds and safe travels. It was a unique and wonderful experience that is a result of my volunteer work. I was so blessed. A huge thank you to my wonderful kind, thoughtful, generous recipient and the crew for a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience. My recipient certainly is a rare and remarkable young man.

I hope I have helped you through my eyes to have a greater understanding of a life of service and making sacrifices and the effect our work does in their lives.

I will leave you with this final insight. One of the wives said to her husband that after spending time with him and seeing what he does said that “he doesn’t do much”!

Thank to Cath H for this amazing insight! What a once in a lifetime experience!!!

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