20.8.06

My third trip with the Royal Australian Navy

Well yeah I enjoyed this trip as well on board HMAS Darwin an FFG 04 A little TECHIE info for I start ok. Laid Down: Launched: 26 March 1982 Commissioned: 21 July 1984 Displacement: 4,100 tonnes Length: 138.1 metres Beam: 13.7 metres Armament: 76mm rapid fire gun, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Standard surface to air missiles, Phalanx Mk15 close-in weapon system, 2 triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes for Mk 46 torpedoes 'Nulka' Anti-Ship Missile Defence Main Machinery: 2 General Electric LM2500 gas turbines geared to a single controllable pitch propeller Speed: More than 30 knots Ship's Company: Approximately 221. And you can read all about her and other vessels of The RAN on this site {Aussie Navy}. It was a long time ago now but I will try and recall as much as I can. I went aboard her with both of my son’s on a Sunday as I recall afterwards we went to the Pub down at the Dockside and had a few beers; my oldest son went home but I stayed sadly and got terribly drunk I guess I thought I was the age of my youngest son and his mates also an American aircraft carrier was in port full of Marines which no doubt spurred me on. Enough of that I bunked in the Petty officers mess this time as my son had been promoted a further promotion did occur but I was back home then. Strangely enough I scored a women petty officer’s bunk as she was on leave (furlough) at the time. The tucker was the same except it was delivered to our own mess to eat showers etc were excellent as is usual in our Navy. My adventures aboard were much the same really as my trip on HMAS Brisbane except this time I got to fire an AK-47 where that came from I don’t know and although curious never asked; I had seen one on the Brisbane oddly enough. To cut to the chase we all of us Fathers were invited to the stern (the rear) to have some Machine gun practice firing at balloons which were bobbing around all over the place I was given the usual safety instructions but being ex military knew them so I told the young sailor this needless to say I never popped a balloon still none of the others did either so I felt better after that, A difficult thing to do actually. We witnessed missile firing, guns firing (no wonder I’m deaf) even a rescue at sea an exercise of course. All good entertaining stuff all in all I enjoyed it. I must say I got one or two shocks as a lot of the crew were young women indeed as we sailed a patrol boat steamed a tad close but closer enough to see there were female officers aboard; this was quite a new thing then I thought but it seems not. So first day out at sea and to go up top you have to clamber all over bodies to get where you were going male and female all suffering from gigantic hangovers like me lol. Seems this is the norm on our ships; there were none on the Brisbane though still I am talking years later. Anyways one arvo I am sitting in the mess reading a book just me and the Bosun and a knock was heard at the door; the Bosun says see who that is Mick wouldya. No worries so I opens the door and there’s a young female sailor there wants to wake a bloke up. The Bosun he just said let her in so I did but I knew for a damm fact that all the blokes in there asleep were all stark naked; it seems that’s the norm now as well as I enquired about it still I was a bit long in the tooth to them I guess; I know I am now but. I liked the Bosun he seemed a fair dinkum bloke everywhere I went he seemed to be involved but he was a fair bloke with the crew. It seems the Skipper was prone to sea sickness most of his other commands were Submarines and he preferred it under the waves. But having been aboard a Submarine I know I could not hack it. This is a hoot nobody but nobody is allowed up topside at night dangerous I guess but if you wanted to smoke that’s where you had to go; the cruncher is they all smoked in the little gym they had made out of a disused gun turret I really got a laugh outta that I tell you. Ah well all good things come to an end so as soon as we docked I went off to the Railway station for the trip back to in Taree in NSW. This is a pic of her I preferred the Brisbane I think but still a fine ship for all that the same type as the USS Reuben James in my last yarn.

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