- Periodical, Semaphore
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment), HMAS Kuttabul, HMAS Australia I, HMAS Sydney II
- March 2008 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Since 2002, the Band has re-established links with the fleet through regularly embarking small elements of musicians in ships departing on deployments. The RAN Band’s operational role during such deployments is to entertain deployed ADF forces, as well as to add value to the fleet’s engagement profile ashore. While embarked, band members are employed in a variety of roles, including general duties in the galley/cafeteria and laundry parties, as lookouts on the bridge, on the helm and as members of the ship’s force protection teams. For instance, during Operations SLIPPER and FALCONER the musicians worked as members of flight deck teams in HMAS Kanimbla (II).
The deployment of 17 musicians to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) during Christmas 2003, and a further 19 musicians for Christmas 2005, as part of the musical Tour de Force sponsored by the Forces Advisory Council on Entertainment (FACE), demonstrated to Australian and coalition forces the calibre of the RAN’s musicians and the Band’s musical capability. During Anzac Day 2004, the band had 15 musicians at Anzac Cove and one of its buglers performed for the dawn service in Baghdad, Iraq. More recently, 15 musicians participated in another FACE tour; this time to the Solomon Islands in support of ADF and Australian Federal Police personnel committed to Operation ANODE. While in the Solomon Islands, the musicians presented a concert to an audience of more than 20,000 Solomon Islanders.
In Australia each year, the RAN Band completes more than 500 performances with audience numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Importantly, the RAN Band is able to keep Navy’s image alive in communities far removed from any naval presence. Tasks range from supporting local community groups and ex-service associations to supporting ceremonial, public relations and social activities for the wider naval family. For example, in June 2003 the Maritime Commander commented that the presence of the RAN Band at welcome home and departure ceremonies for RAN ships deploying to, and returning from, overseas operations `has been superb, and added immeasurably to the importance of those occasions for our people and their loved ones.’
The RAN Band has performed at the Royal Tournament and in Disneyland, on the shores of Gallipoli, at the Pope’s summer palace (Castel Gandolfo) and in the `Big Egg’ Stadium in Japan, while supporting RAN diplomatic activities and military operations overseas. The band also played a leading role during the Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Recent ceremonies that highlighted the importance of maintaining naval music were the repatriation ceremony, funerals, and national thanksgiving service to honour those lost in the crash of the RAN’s Sea King SHARK 02, while providing humanitarian relief as part of Operation SUMATRA ASSIST II. In carrying out these and other ceremonial functions, such as commissioning and decommissioning ceremonies, today’s RAN Band continues the fine tradition established by the bluejacket bands; however, instead of playing `Sons of the Sea’ as was the case in 1900, today’s musicians perform popular tunes such as `I am Australian’ and `Waltzing Matilda.’
The performance of these duties, and many others like them, have firmly established the reputation of the RAN Band and demonstrated that its time-honoured traditions continue to be proudly upheld by its members today.