This is from a Navy subscriber:


I’m not sure who wrote this, but it says it all.

When I read this, I understand why I am like I am. Offering no excuses. Would I do it again? My answer is yes. The bond and camaraderie last a lifetime.



I’ve often heard said that Sailors drink too much, fight too much and they carry a joke that one step too far.

It’s easy to condemn them for their loutish behaviour and their gallows sense of humour.

If you have never served in the Navy it’s easy to get the wrong impression of Sailors because clearly, Civvies don’t understand them and we struggle sometimes to understand ourselves.

Sailors tend to have more extreme behaviour not because they have mental health issues, though some of us did, but because of environmental impact and learned behaviours.

Try living in a steel box, in beds three high in a confined space, with 50 others for months on end. Living in a steel box that is full of fuel, electricity, complex electronics and weapons. A steel box that catches fire so frequently so you have to prepare for the worst every day.

Our ability to entertain ourselves without TV the internet or Amazon. How as a young Sailor our infatuation with ladies of the night and establishments that “normal” people would not step foot in was considered healthy.

A place where there is no room for privacy, for “me” time or longed for solitude. A place where getting contact from the outside world has a huge impact on your well being.

Try living a life that’s full of uncertainty, not knowing if your important plans will come to fruition due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

Work hours on end until the job is done regardless of how tired you are. Be aware that Shipmates rely on you to pull your weight and conversely you rely on them, for only teamwork will achieve our goals.

Knowing in your heart when you leave that it will be difficult at best, to replace the camaraderie the esprit de corps the bond forged in adversity, the life we took for granted and embraced that others will never understand can never be replicated.

And that is why for some of us we struggle to fit into a society that can never comprehend what our lives were and think our behaviour is extreme.

Look after yourself and enjoy life.

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  • Colin Rayfield November 16, 2021  

    The Nov 15 essay by a Navy subscriber explains a lot to those of us, on land, as combat Veterans – who knew little, and were told little, of Navy exploits.
    Some few of us knew of supporting gunfire – but like the sociopathic military police – ‘could not relate’ to those we seldom met up with – or heard their stories.
    It’s to our – and the Navy’s – detriment that more of their stories/lifestyles weren’t honoured.
    Perhaps there should be a correction of our Defense records – to have these histories TOLD, by authorities.

    PERHAPS IT’S TIME THAT REMEMBRANCE DAY SHOULD BE EXTENDED TO REMEMBRANCE MONTH. (And ban politicians & bureaucrats from MILITARY events / ‘ceremonies’. It sickens me to see room made for THEM – who contributed NOTHING – WHILE LESSER NUMBERS OF VETERANS participating. The Americans can teach us a lot about that, as with their ‘guarding of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior’ by CURRENT SERVING MEMBERS – OF ALL RANKS.

  • Glenn Hudson November 29, 2021  

    Extreme behaviour? I never considered myself or any of my fellow Sailors extreme. We may go out of our way to have a good time, but this should be totally understandable considering the way we are isolated from society and families for long periods of time. Sailors are strange, in that we will complain about lots of things, and just as suddenly laugh at the way, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We endure tough conditions, live on a floating bomb. So when we finally get a port visit, we like to drink. This helps socially and relives tension by a big degree. We don’t look for trouble, it usually finds us. We do sort of stick out from the main population.

    Sailors are hard to understand because our experiences are so far removed from what is normal. You see some amazing things, you do some amazing things, but by the time we reach home, unlike the Army and Airforce we have probably put all these things to the back of our minds or compartmentalise to deal with at a later time. We do not share a lot of our experiences because we don’t want our families to worry. More and more, the ADF and Government expect us to be Angels and behave in a manner that totally belies our lifestyle. We are constantly told to behave in manners to make Australia proud, I would have hoped Australians would be proud of us regardless. We do get into trouble occasionally, but when you work in a pressure cooker, you have to blow off steam eventually. Perhaps this is why we are seen as extreme. There’s nowhere left for us to just relax and decompress.

  • Peter Chegwidden December 1, 2021  

    BZ Very well and articulately said !!!

  • Lee December 2, 2021  

    Ye we went to extremes because I was a submariner for 26 years, started on Polaris went to Trident. We went up to and including 4 months under the sea. Easy to say but you have to be in a mind set to deal with that, that’s why they try to whittle them out during the training. There is nothing so heartbreaking than knowing you’re not going to see your wife ,children or girlfriend for months at a time. But we submariners feel the need to do it because it’s what we are good at, we feel that we are protecting our country and our families. I personally ended my navy time joining hunter killers in last 7 years of my naval career and never had so much fun, working with special forces etc . But it takes a toll, my wife couldn’t handle me being away, I came home to an empty house after being away for 3 months, my wife had moved to N. Ireland to see somebody else and had taken my kids away. So … that thought is in the back of every sailors mind every time he or she goes to sea x

  • Lee December 2, 2021  

    When we hit land there’s going to party man, we survived we completed our missions. As a submariner the the first thing we do is organise a run ashore with the boys, the girls other halves don’t understand that, “ you just spent months with them “ Yes we did, and I couldn’t wait for the next ? x

  • stephen sauer December 3, 2021  

    I remember doing a FOD walkdown one morning, the entire squadron stretched across the flight line, walking it from one end to the other. It suddenly hit me that the real Navy guys were trying to act like Navy guys in the movies. And movie Navy guys were trying to act like real Navy guys. Art imitates life. Life imitates art.

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