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 engines drive her through the sea.
I LIKE the sounds of the navy the piercing trill of the boatswains call the syncopated clang of the ships bell the harsh squawk of the main broadcast and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work
I LIKE navy vessels, nervous darting destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries, sleek submarines and steady solid carriers.
I LIKE the proud names of navy ships Australia, Melbourne, Sydney
I LIKE the lean angular names of navy destroyers Anzac, Vampire, Vendetta, Voyager.
I LIKE the tempo of a navy band blaring through the upper deck speakers as we pull away from the tanker after refueling 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 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 radar screens.
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 on watch will keep me safe.
I LIKE quiet middle watches with the aroma of kai on a winters night.
I LIKE hectic watches when the exacting minuet of hazy grey shapes racing at full speed keeps all hands on a razor edge of alertness.
I LIKE the sudden 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.
An adolescent can find adulthood, in years to come when sailors are home 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 and 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, I WAS PART OF THE NAVY AND THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF ME.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE THE NAVY.