I was a sailor once...
I LIKE standing on the bridge wing at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the four quarters of the globe, the ship beneath me feeling like a living thing as her turbines drive her through the sea.
I LIKE the sounds of the navy the piercing trill of the boatswains call the syncopated clanger of the ship's bell, the harsh squawk of the main broadcast Tannoy and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
I LIKE navy vessels, nervous darting destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries, sleek submarines, purposeful minehunters and steady solid carriers.
I LIKE the proud names of capital navy ships Australia, Melbourne, Sydney
I LIKE the lean angular names of navy destroyers ANZAC, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA, VOYAGER, BRISBANE, HOBART, PERTH.
I LIKE the tempo of a navy band blaring through the upper deck speakers as we pull away from the tanker after refuelling at sea.
I LIKE the pipe "libertymen fall in" and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
I LIKE sailors, men from all parts of the land, from city and country alike and all walks of life, I trust and depend on them as they trust and depend on me for professional competence, comradeship and courage, in a word they are shipmates.
I LIKE the surge of adventure in my heart when the word is passed "special sea dutymen close up".
I LIKE the infectious thrill of sighting home again, the waving hands of welcome from family and friends, the work is hard and dangerous, the going rough at times, the parting from loved ones painful but the companionship of robust navy laughter, the all for one and one for all philosophy of the sea is ever present.
I LIKE the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ships work, the beer issue, watching flying fish flit across the wave tops as sunset gives way to night.
I LIKE the feel of the navy in darkness the masthead lights, the red and green navigation lights and the stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of the ships wake.
I LIKE drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad noises large and small that tell me that my ship is alive and well and that my shipmates are on watch and will keep me safe.
I LIKE quiet middle watches with the aroma of kai on a winter’s night.
I LIKE the bow slicing through the mirror calm of the sea and the frolicking of dolphins as they dart in and out of the bow wave.
I LIKE watching the track disappearing back towards the horizon knowing that it will be gone in a short time and being aware of the fact that we were not the first or will not be the last to leave our mark on the water.
I LIKE the foaming phosphorescence at night, dancing from the wake of the screws as they constantly push tons of water astern of the ship, carrying us to our next exciting rendezvous.
I LIKE hectic watches when the exacting minuet of haze grey shapes racing at full speed keeps all hands on a razor edge of alertness.
I LIKE the sudden electricity of "action stations" followed by the hurried clamour of running feet on ladders and the resounding thump of watertight doors and hatches as the ship transforms herself from the peaceful workplace to a weapon of war ready for anything.
I LIKE the sight of space age equipment manned by youngsters clad in No8's and sound powered phones that their grandfathers would still recognise.
I LIKE the traditions of the navy and the men who made them and the heroism of the men who sailed in the ships of yesteryear.
In years to come when sailors are home from the sea they will still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods, the impossible shimmering mirror calm, and the storm tossed green water surging over the bow, and then there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of engine and rudder orders, a vision of the bright bunting of signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a refrain of hearty laughter.
Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their navy days, when the seas belonged to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon, remembering this they will stand taller and say:
I was a sailor once, and numbers will never be the same again:
Kit: 1's 2's 3's 4's 6's 8's 10's 10A's
Punishment Number 9's, 10 days stoppage, 7 days cells
And can someone explain why are 2 4 6 heavy?
Only a sailor knows...
I was a sailor once and I look back and realise it was not just a job, it was a way of life. A family where shipmates became brothers and part of a team.
I was a sailor once and I still can't forget my Official Number.
When medical science receives my body, as they examine it they will find a tattoo inside my brain with my Official Number and an anchor where my heart is.
I was a sailor once and I Like the navy because even as times change, and the youth takes over from the old seadogs, some things never change:
The bitching is still the same.
The old days were always harder
The recruits were always greener
Official Numbers were always smaller
Men of steel and ships of wood
The goffers were always bigger
The girls were not as good looking
I recently had the good fortune to attend a naval reunion and sat back and observed that friendships and respect are still as strong and binding as ever.
The ditties are still as interesting - only the tale gets bigger.
If I haven't been there, it doesn't exist - or we blew it off the map.
Only a sailor knows.
I was a sailor once and I know.
I was a sailor once, I was part of the navy and the navy will always be a part of me, that's why I love the navy.