Open day inspires younger generation

20 November 2023

Australian Naval Cadets (ANC) from ANC Training Ship Darwin had a rare opportunity to tour two Navy patrol boats as they came on board HMAS Childers and ADV Cape Capricorn for an open day on October 21.

With tours of both vessels, firefighting demonstrations and a sea boat ride around Darwin Harbour on a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB), the cadets were shown the excitement that a future career in Navy has to offer.

For many, it was their first time on board a Navy vessel, and for some, an opportunity to reignite their passion for life at sea.

Able Seaman Eric Bergen, of ANC, said the cadets immersed themselves into operations.

“It was very gratifying to witness our cadets actively engaging with the crew members, gaining firsthand insight into the life of a patrol boat sailor,” Able Seaman Bergen said.

Cadets experienced various activities on board both vessels, starting with the ceremony of colours on Childers and tours of the living and working spaces.

Fire suit ‘rig runs’ were conducted between a number of cadets, with the first to get changed into full firefighting gear crowed the winner, among roars of laughter and celebratory claps.  

The cadets tried out the fire hose and various firefighting techniques from the stern of Childers before saying goodbye and embarking in Cape Capricorn for RHIB rides on Darwin Harbour and various activities relating to emergency responses at sea.

Leading Seaman Matthew Anderson, a marine technician on Cape Capricorn, said it was a rewarding experience.

“Being able to provide the cadets an understanding of how we live at sea and respond to damage-control incidents on board – while also showing off one of the newest additions to the minor war vessel fleet – encouraged a fair few of them to join the RAN once they’re old enough,” Leading Seaman Anderson said.

A particular highlight for Leading Seaman Anderson was the thermal imagery camera exercise, where the crew had cadets navigate their way down a darkened passage finding hot spots – much like a damage control team would if they were fighting a fire on board.

Commanding Officer HMAS Childers Lieutenant Commander Stephen Gaisford said a sense of service calls to people at all ages.

“Australian Naval Cadets are an important avenue for those interested in Navy and military life in general, who want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” he said.  

The ANC was formed in 2000 from the Naval Reserve Cadets and Training Ship Darwin is one of a few ANC Training Ships in the Top End of Australia. Many cadet parents and staff are active serving members in the RAN or are associated with the Defence community.

“Cadets are an important investment in junior leadership, teamwork and understanding of the ADF,” Lieutenant Commander Gaisford said.

“I am proud of Childers’ association with TS [Training Ship] Darwin and I hope to see one or more cadets in the fleet when they come of age.”

The cadets finished their open day with big smiles and even bigger stories.



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