July xx, 2021 (Google Translation) – On Friday 2 July, the transfer of the nameplate of the Godetia took place on board the sailing ship Mercator, opposite the city hall of Ostend. An emotional moment, because it means the farewell of a stately lady who was part of the Belgian Navy for 55 years.
Commander Gianni Vangaever explained in his speech how the Godetia formed a common thread throughout his career. His first position on board was as a deck non-commissioned officer, then he spent time there as a candidate officer. He was the last commander in command there for nineteen months. He thanked his crew for the good reception, their professionalism, support and friendship during that difficult period. After all, due to the corona measures, it was almost impossible to disembark. This was especially true on the last voyage, when the Godetia acted as command ship for NATO’s mine countermeasures fleet SNMCMG 1.
The commander was very enthusiastic about what the ship had achieved. In total it has circumnavigated the world forty times, with great missions for the Nautical School (ENS), the Mine Countermeasure Vessels Operational Sea Training (MOST) and the SNMCMG 1.
In the end it became a sentimental goodbye, as there is no succession, no new commander to succeed him, everything is left behind. Commander Vangaever will also complete the last journey towards Ghent. He did want to put the boatswain Giovanucci in the daylight, who delivered the ship in optimal condition on the last arrival. The ship has never been so neat and beautiful in recent years. He concluded with ” fair winds and following seas , and I will always carry the crew in my heart.”
The mayor of Ostend, Bart Tommelein, then took the floor. Sailor-military Tommelein, as he calls himself. De Marine is close to his heart and referred to the name Godetia as a beautiful flower that radiates enthusiasm and positivity through its beautiful colours. He honored the ship for what it has all accomplished: hunting pirates, helping boat refugees, fighting mines and transporting vital goods and equipment to the most remote places.
The mayor also mentioned that the Godetia was the first military ship built entirely in Belgium. The ship was predicted to have a lifespan of thirty years, which eventually became 55. A history spanning several generations. Nor did it become a history of “ around the world in 80 days, but 40 times ”. Given the good relationship between the city of Ostend and the Navy for 75 years, he proudly took on the nameplate of the Godetia. He said goodbye with the words: “Her is now allowed to rest, her name is honored.” He then stated that he would be happy to accept the sponsorship of one of the future ships.
There was also an emotional feeling among the crew. Coxswain Peter has had three spells with the Godetia. In 1996-1997 he made his last trip with the Maritime Academy as a technician. During his second period (2008-2014) he was chief of electricity and now concludes his period on board in the last three and a half years as chief of crew. In that last period he went on board at the shipyard in Antwerp and saw the ship change during that period from a shipyard, with a qualification ‘ very satisfactory’ at MOST, to the beautiful condition in which it arrived after the last voyage, tip-top in order.
He remembers many missions, including several for the ENS and two to Africa. What he found very positive during that last period was the ideal mix between the older men and the younger crew. The goodbye hurts him a bit, because for Peter the Godetia was really his second home.
First quartermaster chief Efrem concludes with two periods on board. His first experience was from 1994 to 1996. That period was quite an adjustment for him, because he was retrained as a signaller (radio operator), where he came into real contact with the radio station for the first time. His second term began on January 2, 2014 and lasted seven and a half years. What he especially likes here is that as an ‘ old school’ craftsman he was always happy that he could teach the new generation of connectors the extra tricks of the trade, especially regarding flags and flashing.(light morse). He will always remember the operations such as those with the SNMCMG 1, the ENS and the campaign to help boat people. The only ‘disadvantage’, he concludes, was that the cuisine was way too tasty, rubbing his tummy.
Quartermaster Marwane has only been part of the Navy for about five years. Before that, he was a paratrooper from 2010 to 2016. His friend Ben, who had made the transition to the Navy, introduced him to it for the first time. After a short deliberation, he decided to take the plunge and it hasn’t complained yet. After a minimal course, he already got a taste of the Iceland voyage of the Godetia in 2016. After the deck course and stops on the Castor, Pollux and Louise-Marie, he finally came on board the Godetia in 2018 as a deck sailor.
Even though the frigates were his first choice, he has no regrets. He mainly wanted to travel and on the Godetia he was able to do that sufficiently. It is closer to his way of being, he can take more initiative, especially compared to the army. He especially remembered the trip to Africa in a positive way, a very instructive experience, with visits to many West African countries. He is also happy to help train the French-speaking students on board. He admits that he has certainly not regretted the move from land to naval power, that he loves the Navy. He will certainly remember this last trip, but now he looks forward to his social promotion to eventually become a non-commissioned officer.
It was certainly a worthy farewell to our old lady, who will live on in the hearts of many.