THE DARWIN DISASTER has been too well covered for us to attempt to document Cyclone Tracy and its tragic aftermath. However, it is this Society’s duty to emphasise that the Navy is the only service, military or civil, to provide those vital services needed for natural or manmade catastrophes.
Operation Navy Help Darwin involved 13 ships and 3,000 men. It provided transport for materials, vehicles and a mobile power supply that could reactivate the stricken town. The sophisticated communication equipment linked Darwin with the outside world and the fleet helicopters carried out tasks which would have normally required a fleet of mobile cranes.
The Navy in its task showed no distinction between its supporters and its detractors. The sailors worked in soaring temperatures, raking through the remains of homes without thought of the owners’ opinions on defence.
While the Fleet was still engaged on Operation Navy Help Darwin another plea for help was received from the opposite end of the continent. A Navy Diving Clearance Team was urgently required to locate cars that had plunged off the Tasman Bridge.
There are some who would say ‘what else do we get out of it?’ It is this type of individual this Society must convince. We need a Navy. We need a strong Navy. We need a Navy that is strong enough to defend our shores, to chart our seaways, to protect our fisheries and to be at hand when a national disaster strikes.