HMAS Cairns shipshape for action
HMAS Cairns will be invaded by a wave of public interest this weekend, as more than 3000 curious locals descend on the base to sample a taste of life in the navy.
About 300 personnel from the base will be ready and willing to lend a hand at the HMAS Cairns Open Day on Sunday, with a host of weapons, warships and hydrographic equipment on display.
HMAS Cairns commanding officer Cdr Wendy Bullen said locals could look forward to interacting with sailors from a variety of diverse specialities at the base, with the event marking the end of Navy Week.
"All of our departments that are here to support our fleet units will be open and have displays as to what their main role and function is.
"There's some quite interactive displays in our workshops and health centre. (For example) people can get their blood taken, talk to our medics and find out how it is that they support our fleet."
Cdr Bullen said two of the Navy's Armidale Class patrol boats would also be open for the public to explore, alongside the ever popular jet boat rides and armoury display.
"It's just a way for our public to get that one-on-one interaction with our sailors and find out what it's like being out there on the line," she said.
"It's also getting to see first hand how professional, motivated and committed our young sailors are towards the job they do."
Cdr Bullen said months of planning and preparation had gone in to the open day, all with the aim of highlighting HMAS Cairns' role in the community.
"What we're really hoping is that it's a family day. That people bring their kids and have a bit of a fun day, and have a bit of a walk around to better understand what the navy does here in Cairns," she said.
"It's our opportunity to open our doors and invite our local community in to feel more a part of what it is we're doing here and just to give something back."
Meanwhile, the sound of a 700hp Turbomeca Arriel 1B engine is set to pierce the skies over Cairns this weekend, as one of the navy's Aerospatiale AS350BA Squirrel helicopters touches down in time for open day.
Squirrel pilot Sub-Lt Tammielee Moffatt said aviation buffs would be able take a closer look at the training helicopter on Sunday and grill its highly trained crew on any flight-related questions they had.
"It's mostly just giving an appreciation that there is actually aviation in the navy. It's amazing how many people don't realise that," Sub-Lt Moffatt said.
"I'm looking forward to having a chat with some different people and looking forward to the lovely weather that Cairns has to offer."
Having flown in from HMAS Nowra in NSW today, Sub-Lt Moffatt said the Squirrel was an essential stepping stone for pilots looking to eventually fly on larger types, such as the Seahawk or MRH-90.
"Those platforms do provide a lot for fighting the war at sea and they're an invaluable asset to the ship's capability," she said.
The 2012 HMAS Cairns Open Day will kick off at 10am on Sunday, running through to 2pm.
Free parking is available in the HMAS Cairns car park, opposite the base.
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Learning the ropes: Leading Seaman Liam Dixon and Able Seaman Sam Vasey prepare HMAS Wollongong, one of the attractions of HMAS Cairns' Open Day, along with an Aerospatiale AS350BA Squirrel utility/training helicopter.