Last Friday, after an early start ,grey skies and a chauffeur driven ride (aka Jan-Maree) Toni, Jenny A and myself were taken to Garden Island to embark on a Family day trip sailing on HMAS Hobart.

 (Arriving at Naval base Garden Island)

HMAS Hobart is a sophisticated and lethal guided missile destroyer warship with a unique combat system, heli pad and is one of the Navy’s top ships. HMAS Hobart incorporates state-of-the-art phased array radar and an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres.

Just before Christmas, HMAS Hobart returned from a three month deployment in Asia, stopping in Japan and Korea with two other Australian ships. It was an opportunity to proudly show our partner nations what she can do.  On her way home Hobart stopped in Cairns. It was here the ships company were surprised with a laundry bag each of them. The crew were directed to the ships office to make their selection. Here they went through the vast array and chose what connected and meant something to them. Mate looking after mate, if they saw a bag that they knew someone would like, they put it aside for them.

First stop meeting our wonderful guide Ben and photo op with HMAS Hobart sign before embarkation.  
(with our guide Ben) 

Upon boarding we were personally welcomed by the ship’s captain, Commander Ryan Gaskin. He personally welcomed and thanked us for what Aussie Hero’s does for our troops. 
(Commander Ryan Gaskin with Jenny A, Cath Hpr and Toni)

We started our day with a briefing on the heli pad regarding sea sickness and what not to do and were offered a sick bag each. Some of our group felt a little seedie during the day at sea. A rundown of the day followed with a safety demonstration with crew all kitted out in appropriate protective gear and hoses. They showed how a fire would be dealt with if necessary. Some people looking down from the deck above got a little wet. 
(stern mast party)

While we waited to leave port, our expert guide, Ben, gave a detailed and informative tour of the deck and the guns and missile capabilities of HMAS Hobart. 

(The models with the largest gun)

As HMAS Brisbane, Hobart’s younger sister ship had to be moved by tug boats as she was moored alongside and we could not leave the dock until she was pushed out of the way. Being up this close the Tugs are very large with great power. Once she was moved then we were off on a day of adventure. She quickly built up speed and we were travelling fast through the harbour past Watsons Bay and out the heads where we turned left, put foot on the pedal built up speed and up the coast and northern beaches. We got up to approx 22 knots. If you have been on a cruise ship then the slight movement is fine as the ship has stabilisers.   

We had a tour of the men’s quarters, saw some laundry bags on display, hanging near their racks (bunk beds) in their tight quarters, visited the gym for a brief workout, the laundry room just for a visit not laundry duty. We were lucky, right place at right time, had a special tour of the torpedo room. As this is a secure and locked area all bags and phones had to be left outside.  All of this was done by maneuvering through hatches up and down narrow stairs which we all did with great trepidation while they crew run up and down them.
Ear plugs were issued and we moved to the bow of the ship for a gun fire exercise. The crew were kitted out with protective clothing-vests, helmet and demonstrated machine guns and hand held weapons.  
 Starboard gun display,

 gunfire display port side,

(more gun display)

Next on the agenda was lunch in the Junior Seaman’s mess. We queued with the ship’s company and had a range of selections from hamburger, fish, pork belly, potato bake and veggies to choose from. All of us sat down like a family, bit like The Waltons. Here we spent time getting to know each other better.

Moving after lunch to a higher deck and enjoyed the wind in our hair and breeze on our face and the view as we came back into Sydney Harbour. But to get there was an even smaller ladder where we had to pull ourselves up to get to it. We were in a prime location to watch the launch of a RHIB Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat. Ben was called to operate the crane, allowing the boat to be lowered over the side of the ship.  
Rigid hulled inflatable boat foto) 

The guys in the inflatable boat are highly trained in this maneuver as the boat can easily capsize. They clearly love doing this and had fun launching and driving the boat in the harbour. Big boys toys.

As we neared Garden Island on our return we passed HMAS Canberra L02. She is the current flagship of the RAN fleet. HMAS Hobart piped her as we passed and the ships company stood to attention. This is done as a mark of respect as she is a senior ship. 

Canberra’s crew were also at attention and as we passed they piped us. 

We also had the Army band play for us as we passed.  They were on the Canberra (preparing for Australia Day preparations). 
(Army band on HMAS Canberra)

Once we docked and were waiting for permission to disembark, Commander Gaskin came and joined us, asking how our day was and again thanking us for what we do. He asked had I met my recipient who was working all day as he is the navigation officer. I hadn’t, so before we departed the ship I met my recipient of the Collingwood laundry bag. We do these things with love and send them off never expecting to meet our recipient so an already very special day was made even more special. 
(with my recipient)

Special thank you to our fabulous caring and informative tour guide Ben. You taught us so much and looked after us so well and shared your passion and dedication for the job you do. You gave us an insight into your life onboard an Australian warship. We were adopted by Ben and his family for the day. His family – Mum, Dad, sister and a friend flew from Brisbane to be part of this special day along with his wife, Bek, who travelled up from Canberra. The other ladies and myself are very grateful for what you all did to make this unique and privileged day so very memorable and special.

Thank you HMAS Hobart for the generosity shown to us. You make us all proud of you. 

Thank you for your amazing service!

Thanks for the report Cath!

Till next time… keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree xx