PHOTOS: Sailors experience blast from the past

IT WAS like a trip down memory lane for more than 120 ex-patrol boat sailors as they hopped aboard HMAS Gladstone over the weekend.

The sailors were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the commissioning of the first vessel in the Fremantle class.

Many of them shared special memories from their time aboard a Fremantle class patrol boat, some even from the Gladstone herself.

David ‘Dicko’ Dixon was the chief boatswain’s mate aboard Gladstone from 1986-1987.

While on board for the open day, Mr Dixon found his old rack, a top bunk.

He hoisted himself up by grabbing bits of metal of the roof, pulling himself up and swinging onto the mattress.

“Had to check I’ve still got it,” he said.

Down in the junior sailors quarters, Gary Haigh was reminiscing with a couple of other sailors about his rack.

Mr Haigh said the rack was the most sought-after in the area.

“We called the spot Sleepy Hollow,” he said.

Being away from the main thoroughfare and phone, he said, the area was the quietest bed you could have.

For Jack Kolina, seeing the vessel was like stepping back in time. Mr Kolina was part of the team sent to England in the late 1970s that oversaw the design and construction of the Fremantle class boats.

He said it was amazing to see the vessel in such great condition.

Not all of the sailors served on HMAS Gladstone, but as the only vessel in the class open for display, organisers said it was a no-brainer to host the reunion in Gladstone.

HMAS Townsville is the only other ship not turned into scrap, but it sits unused in Townsville.



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