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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 122 – November 26

- 122 – November 26 was upon us before we knew it and Seaman Riseley stepped up to the challenge to not only do vocals but play the drums so that we could do entering harbour in Sydney. He did a fantastic job and this is definitely one young guy to keep an eye on. I am sure that he will have a very successful career. He is also to be commended for his outstanding contribution to the numerous memorial services held whilst onboard. Also, a big BZ to Able Seaman Tatnell for his impressive bass guitar playing - not bad for a trombonist! We are all grateful to have been given the opportunity to partake in such a memorable deployment. Everyone should put their hand up when such opportunities arise, as I can assure you, you will have the time of your life and memories that will stay with you always. MISSILES AND MUSICIANS Article by Petty Officer Matt Jessop On 17 August 2003, eight members of the Royal Australian Navy Band were gathered on the flight deck of HMAS Warramunga watching the rapidly receding coastline off Darwin as they headed for the Islands of Hawaii. For seven of the eight members of the deployed group it was their first time at sea. For one member, Able Seaman Chris Ellis, it was only his third week in the job. This small group of musicians had come together during the previous week for rehearsals in Sydney. Two members of the Melbourne detachment, myself and Leading Seaman Klohs and six members of the Sydney detachment, Leading Seaman Kennedy, Able Seamen Foxe, Aston, Dowd, Cairncross and Ellis were to form this sea going element. We had been tasked with supporting the first operational firing of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM). This involved ceremonial support at numerous cocktail parties throughout the eight-week trip. The principle one being at Pearl Harbour with dignitaries such as our own Chief of Navy, and four of the top ranking United States Navy Admirals among the 150 guests invited. After a day of settling in we were able to commence a daily routine which was to become the norm whilst at sea; this consisted of music rehearsal from 0800 until 1200 and then commencing other daily ships duties from 1200 until 0800 the following day. Duties we were tasked with whilst on board included bridge watch keeping, assistant officer of the watch, laundry, scullery, cooking and working in the engineering department. We found that assisting with these extra duties greatly helped with our integration into the Ship’s Company. It did however have its entertaining moments. One example was when the Commanding Officer came up to the bridge to find one musician on the helm and another navigating. He managed to mask his look of horror rather quickly and rapidly gained confidence in us. After 12 days at sea, a crossing the line ceremony, ships concert and a replenishment at sea, we arrived at our first destination, Pearl Harbour. Pearl Harbour would have to be the most famous and exciting of all naval harbours in the world. One of the first things you are confronted with when entering harbour is the enormous bulk of the USS Missouri. She is bigger in real life than I had ever imagined and dominates the harbour from where she is permanently berthed as a tourist attraction. Immediately behind her is the very sombre memorial to the USS Arizona on which 1100 sailors were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Later in the trip we were privileged enough to be able to visit the memorial site; an experience I am sure none of us will forget. And so the “little green Australian ship”, as the Americans liked to call us, arrived in Pearl Harbour with the music of Cold Chisel, U2 and Men at Work being played from the flight deck. On arrival there was no time for rest as we immediately started preparing for that nights cocktail party. It was a welcome change to rehearse the marching display on a steady deck after rehearsing at sea. All went well with the cocktail party and those who count seemed happy with what we had put together for the Beat to Quarters and Ceremonial Sunset. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 123 – After two days of sight seeing it was back out to sea for the ESSM firings. This was an experience we would not forget as the crew were allowed to stand on the flight deck to watch the first firing. The noise of the missile is incredible, even with full hearing protection and anti flash on there was a ringing in the ears for minutes to come. Our first launch was most successful with the ESSM striking the incoming missile head on, a feat rarely achieved. Firings proceeded over the next two days before we headed to our next port of call, the Island of Kauai. Kauai is the island where Jurassic Park was filmed and no explanation can be given to the extreme beauty of this place. Steven Spielberg would have had to make no changes to the scenery to achieve a prehistoric feel for his movie. Once again there was no time for rest on arrival, as we had to prepare for a Ceremonial Sunset that night. The following day we performed at the local shopping centre to a very appreciative crowd of around 150. That night we played for the ship’s company at a local bar owned by an expatriate Australian. It was a great night had by all with promises being made of a tour of the island the next day. So the next morning we all piled into the back of a Chevy pickup for an interesting bushwalk to “Secret Falls”. These waterfalls are in the valley shown at the start of the movie Outbreak, and proved to be most interesting. Our time at Kauai had to come to an end and it was with regret that we headed back out to sea for some exercises with a Los Angeles class attack submarine. The sub fired a total of six torpedoes at us over the period of two days and then it was time for us to return to Pearl Harbour for a further four days alongside. This visit to Pearl Harbour was to bring the musical highlight of the trip. Whilst at sea we had been in contact with the United States Marine Corps Band who had invited us to play at the Honolulu street festival. Little did we know that we would be performing in front of four US service bands and thousands of people on the main street of Honolulu. It was a career highlight for me with the detachment performing to its highest level in front of a wonderful audience. The generosity and friendship shown by the Marine Corps Band was also something to be experienced. Before we knew what hit us they had thrown a welcome party and were showing us around the island. I only hope that we will be able to return their generosity when they come to Australia in March 2004 for the Victorian Military Tattoo. Our next port of call was New Caledonia. New Caledonia was only a short stop of three days but gave us the opportunity to watch the Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final. On the night of our arrival we performed another ceremonial sunset for the French navy and local dignitaries. With no previous abilities to speak French, Able Seaman Dowd did a magnificent job performing the French national anthem in the local language, much to the delight of the local crowd. The following day we performed at the local marine festival on behalf of the Australian embassy. On completion, it was off to a local establishment to catch a live broadcast of the AFL Grand Final. After joyfully watching Eddie Maguire crying on public television it was off to perform a concert at another waterfront establishment. It was great to see the majority of the ship’s company turn up at these non-compulsory affairs with the Commanding Officer and the wardroom leading the way on the dance floor. Next it was off to the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand. With the World Cup looming, it was always going to be interesting being in New Zealand as an Aussie. If only we had been there after the semi final! Once again it was another ceremonial sunset upon arrival for the local New Zealand Navy and Dunedin’s dignitaries. This was a four day stop over with the detachment once again performing their final ship’s concert at a local establishment. Some members of our group grabbed the opportunity of a day off to do some sight seeing in Queenstown, only to return to Dunedin in a blizzard and to find Warramunga blanketed in snow. New Zealand may be a spectacularly beautiful country but the weather leaves a great deal to be desired! Next it was off to Hobart and a return to local shores. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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