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July 19, 2012
CN VADM Ray Griggs was bare-
ly one year old when WOET SM
Keith Freemantle enlisted in the
Navy in 1962.
At a celebration marking WO
Freemantle's 50-year career, CN
said it was an honour to farewell
such a long-standing member of
WO Freemantle's colleagues
joined his wife Vicky and son Chris
to mark the special occasion in
Canberra on June 29.
"It is good that I was alive when
you joined the Navy -- but only
just," CN said at the farewell.
"A big test when people leave
the Navy is to figure out how many
ships the individual served on, that
are still in commission. I think in
Keith's case the answer would be
WO Freemantle carried out his
entry recruit training at HMAS
Cerberus as a radio electrical
He served on HMAS Melbourne
after its collision with HMAS
Voyager. He also saw service in the
Far East during the Indonesian con-
frontation and the Vietnam War.
A memorable career moment
was in 1965 when he embarked in
SS Orcades for passage to the UK
for his submarine training.
"For a young 20-year-old single
sailor having an all expenses paid
trip to the UK, on a passenger liner,
was like letting the fox loose in the
hen house," WO Freemantle said.
"The places we called at were so
exotic -- Colombo, Bombay, Aden,
Djibouti, Suez Canal, Naples,
Marseille, Rotterdam and then
WO Freemantle completed his
submarine specialist training and
saw deployments on HMA Ships
Oxley, Onslow, Ovens, Otway and
Orion, to name a few.
In 1979, he was honoured with
the British Empire Medal for ser-
vice as the electronic equipment
maintainer on HMAS Orion -- the
first of many medals he received.
WO Freemantle had a number
of shore postings from 1980 to
1982, before he discharged from
the Navy and enlisted in the Royal
Australian Fleet Reserve (later inte-
grated into the RAN Reserve).
He then joined the APS in the
directorate of submarine mainte-
WO Freemantle retired from the
APS in 1998, joining the submarine
project as a part-time naval reservist
where he worked until his last day
on June 29.
"Suffice to say, I have had
a wonderful and varied career in
Defence. It has been a privilege,"
WO Freemantle said before clock-
ing off for the final time.
As for what he plans to do now:
"Ask the better half!" he said.
GOODBYE & GOOD
LUCK: WO Keith
Freemantle with a
gift presented by the
during his farewell
at Russell Offices,
Photo: LSIS Paul Berry
WO Olaf Peisert
WHEN CAPT Geoff Bairnsfather joined
the Naval College as a 15-year-old cadet
in 1962, he did so with another Geoff,
Geoff Earley, who had the honour of fare-
welling his colleague after more than 50
Mr Earley, now the Inspector General
ADF (IGADF), led the farewell for
CAPT Bairnsfather on June 28, follow-
ing completion of an IGADF advanced
inquiry officer course which CAPT
Bairnsfather helped conduct.
"The main reason I remained in uni-
form is because I was offered and encour-
aged to do different things," CAPT
He spent more than 39 years in the
permanent Navy, firstly as a supply offic-
er, with time at sea as the Charge Supply
Officer of HMAS Stuart (II) and HMAS
His career included service in HMAS
Melbourne (II) on the fateful night of the
collision with USS Frank E. Evans in the
South China Sea in June 1969. He saw
active service in HMAS Sydney during
her voyages to South Vietnam as the Vung
Tau Ferry, and in operations in Malaya
and Borneo in HMAS Derwent.
He fondly remembers his time as the
Base Supply Officer at HMAS Cairns in
the mid-1970s, serving under the legend-
ary CMDR Mike Keay, when he recalls
life in the 'Old Tin Shed' as "interesting
and somewhat unconventional".
Further variety included postings
on the Naval Staff in Washington DC,
Director of Administration at ADFA,
Director of Studies at Joint Service Staff
College, Chief of Staff at Naval Training
Command, and as Defence Attaché in
Islamabad and Manila. He also served
as the Director General of the Defence
Another highlight was serving as pres-
ident of Navy officer selection boards. "I
look back with a great deal of pride as I
saw many of those nervous young men
and women go on to become fine offic-
ers, some of whom have now reached star
rank. I guess that confirms just how old I
am," he said.
CAPT Bairnsfather transferred to the
RAN Reserve in 2001 and since then
most of his service has been with the
Office of IGADF.
His immediate plans include travel,
spending more time with his family and
pursuing his musical obsession of playing
his ukulele with his extended family in
their band 'Ukelyptus'.
LONG FRIENDSHIP: CAPT Geoff Bairnsfather and Geoff Earley first met as
cadets in 1962.
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