Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Australian Navy

In my travels with the RCN, I have had the pleasure to work with the Royal Australian Navy. These sailors are cut from the same cloth that we in the RCN, that is to say, we work hard, we play hard, and our ships are wet (meaning are permitted to drink on board).

The first time I did the RIMPAC exercise (off of Hawaii) I got to meet my first Auzzies. My ship had just docked in Pearl Harbour (another great story will ensue from this event). Once we had cleared customs, landed the garbage and made the ship nice and neat, we were permitted to go ashore. Sweet, my first look and feel of a US naval base. It was (and still is) huge and very well put together. After wandering around for an hour, I found myself at the Enlisted Members club, another very large and well put together outfit. I made my way to bar at the back of the complex and sat down in the dark (a movie was being shown on the far wall). I got myself a pitcher of beer, sat down and enjoyed the cool darkness.

After enjoying a couple of pitchers of beer I heard a couple of Auzzies at the next table talking about seeing my ship travel to its berth (backwards) and just how cool it was to watch. I picked up another pitcher and wandered over to my newest best mates, sat down and started talking shop with them. As it turned out, they were both Signalmen, just as I was. Totally cool. Anyway, after another pitcher we decided that we really should be drinking somewhere much more appropriate to our class and status so we all got up and wandered down to my ship. At this point we weren't really drunk, just happily hammered - there is a very distinct difference.

The three of us walked up the gangway, paid proper respect to the flag and marched over to the Quarter Master. I signed my two guests on board and down to the mess (where we eat and drink) and the three of us proceeded to empty our wallets into the beer machine. About an hour later someone came  down to the mess, shook my shoulder and said that there was a phone call for me. Great, I wandered up to the brow and was told by a friend from another ship to get my sorry ass down town. Okay, so down town I went and finished the task of emptying my wallet. All in all, a very good time. About 3am the next morning, I got poured onto the bus back to base where I was summarily picked up off the dock and sent to bed.

8am came far too soon. The ship was due to leave Pearl Harbour the next day so I was able to sleep off my attempt to our drink my friend down town. 8am? What the fuck was I doing being shaken at 8am? I opened my eyes to see the not so friendly looking face of the Mess President. He looked at me and said something to the effect of "do you remember Sean and Terry?" At that point I couldn't remember a whole lot so he thrust the guest log in front of my face and there was my name as sponsors to a pair of Australian sailors. Oh, yeah, I remember them now. I brought them on board and then.....

Something in the back of my brain said - errr, you kinda left them on board when you left for down town. With a pained look on my face I admitted knowledge of them and then realised that I was then responsible for their actions while they were aboard. Apparently, at 2am, Sean was found, passed out over one of the barrels of Y mount. Errrr, not good. The Mess President hauled me out of bed and proceeded to explain to me what it meant to be permitted the privledge of having guests in the Mess. Some of the words he used were not all that pleasant. After a very long discussion, he told me that I was not permitted to drink in the mess for the next two weeks.

Two weeks with no beer. Hmmm, as I could not even think of drinking any more today and the ship was leaving port tomorrow and I don't drink at sea and it was going to be two weeks before we got home, I think I got off rather lightly.

And that was my first experience with the RAN. A great bunch of mates.

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