- William F. Cook, MVO, Captain, RAN (Rtd)
- Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1997 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I regret to say that many people writing on naval and other maritime subjects are, in my opinion, very sloppy with their terminology.
Self-styled “Naval Correspondents” are not above referring to that noble ship “Q.E.II” as a boat! I explain to people who enquire as to the difference between a boat and a ship, that as a rough guide a boat is a vessel which can be hoisted on board a ship. The exception (which proves this rule?) is in the submarine service. Submariners proudly call their vessels “boats” – an example of inverted pride? When in doubt, of course, the use of “vessel” is a “very present help in time of trouble”.
I gag also, at the incorrect use of “on” when referring to service “in” or living “in” a ship. Lesson No. 1 when I joined the navy was that as one did not live “on” a house, similarly one does not live “on” a ship. Another early lesson concerns “appointments” (for officers) and “drafts” (for sailors) – not “postings”! One posted letters, but not people. Nor did sailors “tie up” a ship. Only parcels. A ship “secured” (alongside). To “moor alongside” or “moor to a buoy” shows gross ignorance of the term. In these days, of course, even serving naval personnel may not have seen the operation of moor ship – anchoring with both bower anchors and then inserting a mooring swivel in the cables – modern ships having but one bower anchor.
“The H.M.A.S….” is another ignorance. As self-professed “experts”, media people should realise that “The Her Majesty’s Australian ship” is hardly correct English. There must be many more examples.
Sadly, the carelessness is becoming prevalent amongst naval personnel and in correspondence and naval publications. “Postings”, probably copied from the army or a foreign navy, seems here to stay, unfortunately.
More gloom to follow, I’m afraid. We have just been told that Rear Admiral Campbell has been given a pierhead jump – seven days notice to turn over to his relief and take up an appointment in Canberra. He and Mrs Campbell must vacate “Tresco” by 1 July and his successor will not be moving into that historic naval residence. My feeling is that the cavalier treatment of an Admiral (surely there can’t be so great an urgency) together with the loss (if loss eventually it is to be) of the RAN’s “flagship” in Sydney will deal a sad blow to naval morale, particularly that of our officers. The occupants of ‘Tresco” have always played a major role in upholding the presence and prestige of the RAN in this city, and that of the city itself and the State, and none more so than Admiral and Mrs Campbell. While welcoming his successor and congratulating Rear Admiral Simon Harrington on his promotion to flag rank – the first of a second generation of RAN College graduates to be so honoured – the Society, and I’m sure all members of the naval family, will miss Kaye and David Campbell and mourn the tragic loss of the jewel in the navy’s crown. While the politicians are busy collecting dollars to sharpen the cutting edge of the navy’s weaponry, they lose sight of the erosion of its traditions and morale at their peril and, more importantly, ours.
I must go back to my notes in the September issue (Vol. 17 No. 3) and “remember there is nothing stable in human affairs.”