In July 1963, 26 midshipmen graduated from the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay, NSW. They presented a Bible to the College chapel with their names inscribed in it. Excited to begin their Naval careers, none suspected that within the year eight would die.
The new midshipmen underwent a years training at sea. Most of the 1963 class were posted to the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney. In October, HMAS Sydney and HMAS Anzac were in Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands conducting sailing exercises in the ship’s boats, 27-foot (8.2 m) Montague Whalers. They sailed from Sydney, around Hook Island and returned, about 65 km. The fastest boat would win the Captain’s prize.
In four groups, the first set out on Monday 14th October and the next two on the 15th and 16th. All three boats encountered strong winds, high seas and powerful tides and had to be rescued.