“EXCITING!” was how the Commanding Officer of HMAS Creswell, Captain Brett Chandler described the base’s involvement in the build-up to the International Fleet Review in Sydney.
Today, 20-odd warships from around the world will be anchored just off the naval base, preparing to steam to Sydney later in the week for the centenary celebrations.
“It is a very exciting time for the navy and Creswell in particular,” he said.
“We have just wrapped up the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting and have had the Maritime Security Field Training Exercise before the ships depart for the International Fleet Review in Sydney.
“The ships started to come back in from exercises on Tuesday in preparation for anchorage in the bay and a series of briefings are taking place at the base on Wednesday.
“I just hope the weather holds, it is the one thing we cannot control.”
Captain Chandler said the ships’ presence in Jervis Bay was a history making occasion.
“I see this as very important for Creswell and the local area,” he said.
“One hundred years ago on October 4 the seven RAN ships steamed into Sydney Harbour. But before they did that they called into Jervis Bay in preparation of that entry.
“For the ships to do it again in preparation for the IFR matches history.
“Bringing the ships into anchorage off Captain’s Point is a re-creation of a significant historical moment.
“It is something that certainly resonates with HMAS Creswell.
“Admittedly the base wasn’t here when those first ships came in, it was a construction site, but we are now built and prepared to support the fleet.
“It is very exciting for the college – we are normally more famous for preparing naval officers before they progress to the fleet.
“To put Creswell’s role into perspective – every naval officer, right up to the most senior in the country have one time or another come through HMAS Creswell.
“They have spent time here in the Shoalhaven. We also play a role in supporting the fleet and do so often when sips enter the bay.
“This is the biggest number of ships to ever gather in the bay and we are excited to offer support.
“It has been a busy time for our team and they have been working hard towards it.”
Captain Chandler said the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting had been a good dry run to the activities that will be held at the base today.
The facilities at Creswell will be made available to the various officers from the visiting ships in the bay.
“They will be coming ashore in boats to Creswell and will use the conference facilities and rooms for briefings about how the IFR will proceed in Sydney,” Captain Chandler said.
“The teams planning the IFR in Sydney will be holding briefings with all the ships to organise the logistics of the celebrations in Sydney.
“It is a huge undertaking to ensure all the ships are aware of their roles.
“The participants of the Maritime Security Field Training Exercise will also undertake briefings.
“It’s great for us as a base to play our small part.”
The ships were due to come through the Jervis Bay heads from mid-afternoon on Tuesday after completing their various roles in the exercises that were being undertaken off the coast.
He said these celebrations were important for the area.
“It shows the strong connection between the navy and the local area,” he said.
The Chief of Navy will also be co-hosting an official reception at the base with Shoalhaven City Mayor Joanna Gash.
“HMAS Albatross also recently celebrated its 65th anniversary showing our links with the navy and the Shoalhaven region.
“And we are grateful for the support we do receive from the local community.”