Darwin opens scuttles and hatches

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Underwater Ben Hinton and family onboard HMAS Darwin during the recent family day. (photo: LCDR Jason O’Gorman)
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Underwater Ben Hinton and family onboard HMAS Darwin during the recent family day. RAN photo.

HMAS Darwin rolled out the welcome mat for around 120 family and friends recently helping them understand the life at sea of their loved ones.

Commanding Officer Darwin, Commander Phillip Henry, welcomed everyone aboard before the warship sailed around Sydney Harbour and took a short trip outside the Heads.

Guests were given a tour of Darwin’s various departments and given the opportunity to practice some damage control procedures, such as fire-fighting and flood control.

Ship’s company demonstrated ship handling skills and put on a 50-calibre weapons firing display.

The families were also treated to a flypast by a Seahawk S-70B-2 helicopter from 816 Squadron, based at HMAS Albatross on the New South Wales south coast.

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Underwater Ben Hinton said the day was an opportunity for his family to see what his life was like in the Navy.

“I invited my wife, father and a good friend to join me for the day,” Able Seaman Hinton said.

“They gained a new appreciation for conditions onboard a Navy warship, life in general at sea, my role onboard, and how important their continued support is to a sailor like me.”

It was a similar experience for Lieutenant David Hayes.

“This was the first opportunity to show my girlfriend and members of her family around Darwin,” the Weapons Electrical Engineer Officer said.

“Opportunities like this remove potential communication barriers between me and the people I care about. They now have a deeper understanding of what Navy does and how we live.”

Commander Henry said family days were an opportunity to give something back to those who made large sacrifices so that their loved ones may serve in the Navy.

“Family and friends support us all through the year, so days like today are a chance to give something back,” Commander Henry said.

“They get to find out the things we do when the ship is away from home, and the crew get a kick out of showing off their workplace to their families,” Commander Henry said.

This is Darwin’s final year of service in the Royal Australian Navy, and will be decommissioned at the end of 2017.