Home' Navy News : July 21st 2011 Contents Sailor gives his life to sea
WHEN CPOMT Bruce
Dougan boarded the
3801steam train from
Sydney to Melbourne
on his way to HMAS Cerberus he
had no idea he would still be in rig
44 years later.
The sea is a slightly odd love
affair for a young 17-year-old
country bloke who grew up on the
family farm at Gulargambone near
Gilgandra in Western NSW.
But the now 61-year-old is one
of the longest continuously serving
sailors in the Navy and says it is an
affinity that embedded in him as a
seven-year-old and has never left.
"When I was a very young boy,
my dad brought me down to Sydney
back in the '50s," CPO Dougan said.
"I can still remember very viv-
idly an aircraft carrier coming into
Wooloomooloo -- so it must have
been Sydney or Melbourne.
"I can remember there were lots
of people there -- and the wings of the
aircraft were folded on the carrier."
In fact his father, William, was a
former soldier and encouraged the
young Bruce throughout his youth to
experience more than just the pros-
pect of country life and the farm.
Go figure that the impression of a
ship's arrival home through Sydney
Heads of one of the monster carri-
ers would stay with the young child
throughout his life.
"People would say that I was
always talking about the sea anyway
-- so it must have been in my blood
While recruit training is still
taught at HMAS Cerberus, it's prob-
ably no surprise that the world of the
late '60s greeting the young 17-year-
old was a little different than today.
CPO Dougan says he has wit-
nessed a lot change during his 44
years, with pay and personal condi-
tions having increased.
He says discipline is not as rigidly
enforced these days and there has
been a corresponding increase in per-
He recalls especially the old days
of service conditions when he was
billeted to the transport compound at
He says the expectations were
very different even among the sailors
themselves -- but the old conditions
would not be acceptable now.
"We used to live in the old huts
where we were sleeping in dormito-
ry-type accommodation with all the
beds in a row.
"There would be something like
20 beds in a row on either side, so
there were about 40 people in the
It wasn't so much the lack of
privacy that worried the men as
the requirement to go outside for a
"We had the shared open-air
showers outside and you had to go
out in the open in the middle of win-
ter -- man it was cold."
While there is bound to be some
ups and downs over any 40-odd-year
career, including 16 years at sea, he
says the Navy has always been "very,
very good" to him.
As a young sailor he was billeted
with HMAS Melbourne when the
USS Frank E. Evans collided with the
carrier during night operations in the
South China Sea in 1969.
On a happier note he fondly
remembers his early career on the
Admiral Staff in 1975-79 and the
exceptional experiences that pro-
vided the young country boy from
He took part in the US
Bicentennial celebrations in 1976
and then in 1977 was involved in the
Silver Jubilee Spit Head Review in
At personal invitation from Queen
Elizabeth, HMA Ships Melbourne
and Brisbane took part in the review
at Spithead between Portsmouth and
the Isle of White.
"That was fantastic. I was think-
ing 'how good is this'," he says.
"The Royal Yacht Britannia
passed along side and all the ship's
company was dressed in Number
1 uniform and saluted as Queen
Elizabeth passed by."
Presently billeted at Defence
Plaza in Sydney with the LPA
Remediation project, CPO Dougan is
scheduled to retire in 2014 when his
He says he is due to receive his
second Federation Star next year and
is looking forward to maintaining his
Navy career until it is time to pack
away the rig. "It's a great place to
work and really I couldn't think of
anywhere else I'd rather be."
CPOMT Bruce 'Darcy' Dougan reflects on 44
years of faithful and unbroken service to the
Navy and the nation.
) is a chance to give something
means an opportunity to travel
many different experiences.
-- ABMT Richard Knight
July 21, 2011
100th anniversary special
DEDICATION TO THE
NATION: Bruce Dougan
says the Navy has been
"very, very good" to him
during a lifetime of ser-
vice and, inset, with his
mother Lillian in 1975.
Photo: LSIS Paul Berry
Navy records now available online
GOING DIGITAL: Collection curator Theresa Cronk. Photo: LSIS Paul Berry
THE collection of online naval
information has expanded with the
release of digitised ships' records
on July 11.
The Australian War Memorial
released Naval Reports of
Proceedings on their website, www.
awm.com.au, covering the internal
activities of 50 RAN ships from 1939
to the 1980s.
The new digitised records cover
ships' ports of call, official visits,
exercises, operations, weather condi-
tions and outstanding incidents.
The records comprise HMA
Ships Perth, Sydney, Vampire and
Vendetta, along with the first 50
ships of the alphabet beginning with
The Naval Reports of Proceedings
adds the vast amount of historical
Navy records available online includ-
ing past issues of Navy News, Navy
Lists, Commonwealth Naval orders
and merchant ship movement cards
for World War II.
Theresa Cronk, curator of the
memorial's published and digitised
collections, said this project has
brought a change to how digitised
archival records are accessed on the
Links to all digitised records are
now available on one page, www.
"You will be able to see at a
glance what information you're inter-
ested in. It provides a great starting
point to find more information," she
said.The AWM plans to release more
digitised ships records in future and
is processing the records alphabeti-
-- CFN Max Bree
S ngwith a
Serving th Navy
ack to A tralia. It
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