We had a most pleasant surprise just before Anzac Day when Australia’s largest ever Navy ship, the HMAS Canberra pulled into Hobart to mark the Centenary events on the 25th of April. I received a text message from Sinead the day it arrived saying “Big ass ship coming in”. Upon venturing down to the waterfront later that day I saw just how big that big ass ship was……very.
A quick Google search found out exactly what she was and why she was in town and also that us lowly civilians would be able to take a tour on the Sunday! Having visited American Navy vessels before in both Aircraft Carrier, Submarine and Liberty Ship form before, I was excited to see what the current generation would be like. Having completed a tour of the HMAS Canberra I can say……not that different. Sure the bells and whistles are newer but the bare bones are the same, the layouts similar, the cramped spaces, the exposed machinery, the sense that this thing is built for one thing only……war.
It was really interesting being able to talk to the serving crew who were happy to talk about their jobs and answer the usual gawking tourist and military fan questions like “How fast does it go? What’s it like to fly this helicopter? Have you ever fired your gun in the air and went argh? How many rounds does it fire a minute? Is it true there’s a point in a man’s head that if you shoot it his head will explode? Oooookay that’s enough Hot Fuzz references for now but you get the idea. Fair play to the crew though, they answered every query with a smile and had great banter with the visitors.
That’s another thing, the sense of humour on board was evident throughout the ship in various posters on certain equipment or on doorways. Being a naval officer is of course a serious business but it was good to see that these guys knew how to have a laugh at the same time and I suppose hold on to their humanity in the face of potential horrors.
As I’ve said on my Facebook page and on Instagram captions, Australia really does care about their serving men and women and those that have gone before them. It was a pleasure to be here for Anzac Day and to see the respect shown to those who have given their lives for their country and to those who continue to put their lives on the line so that the rest of us can live in peace and safety.