In November, Commander John Goss retired after 57 years’ service in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
He joined the RAN in 1964 as a junior recruit and retired as HMAS Cerberus museum manager.
Commander Goss reflected on his career, recalling the unique nature of his enrolment.
“At 14, I wasn’t enjoying school and saw an ad in the local paper for junior recruits but had to wait until I turned 15 to complete the paperwork,” he said.
“I did all the testing as was accepted into the Navy at 15 and a half, having quite an adventure just leaving Tasmania and getting to HMAS Leeuwin, including a four-day train journey from Melbourne to Perth.”
While undergoing initial cooks’ training, Commander Goss volunteered for submarine service and flew to the UK in July 1967 to commence submarine training in HMS Dolphin.
While in the UK, he was a member of the new submarine HMAS Ovens’ commissioning crew, which sailed back to Australia’s submarine base HMAS Platypus in Sydney during October 1969.
He remained in HMAS Ovens for the next five years and was promoted to Leading Seaman Cook later in 1969 and then to Petty Officer Cook in 1972.
“I’ve had many highlights during the 57 years, but I would say my years in submarines were the best,” Commander Goss said.
“So many challenges, learning and training, it was such a great time.”
In 1979, he ‘changed over’ to officer, was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant, and undertook officer training at the RAN College in HMAS Creswell.
In 1980, he returned to HMAS Cerberus as the Cookery Officer where he commenced proceedings to ensure Navy cooks received civilian qualifications for their military training. All three services agreed to work together over the next two years and concluded with major changes to the cooks’ training.
Commander Goss went back to sea in several surface ships from 1982 undertaking a range of Supply Officer and Commanding Officer Secretary roles in HMA Ships Torrens and Stalwart.
One of his many career highlights included hosting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in HMAS Cerberus in 1986 when they came to present new ‘Queens’ Colours’ to the Navy.
“I had to plan, prepare and deliver a garden party for more than 400 people. After showing the Queen through the Wardroom, we went outside to meet the guests and it to my dismay it started raining. All 400 guests had to make a hasty retreat inside,” Commander Goss said.
“I also have the Navy to thank for meeting my wife, Commander Janine March-Goss. I opened the door for her to come into the Wardroom in 2000 and the rest is history.”
Commander John Goss, pictured with family and fellow senior Naval officers in the Command building, HMAS Cerberus, as part of his farwell after serving 57 years in the Royal Australian Navy. Photo: POIS James Whittle
In 2003, he returned to HMAS Cerberus where he has held several roles including First Lieutenant and, most recently, Manager of the Museum of Cerberus.
Commanding Officer, HMAS Cerberus Captain Ainsley Morthorpe said it was everyone’s job at Cerberus to deliver a skilled, educated, flexible, resilient, and diverse workforce.
“To understand where we want to go it really helps to know where we have been and how we got to where we are now,” he said.
“John has insights and knowledge about the Navy and this base in particular that are fascinating. Serving with John has been a privilege and I am always wiser after spending some time with him.”
On his last day in uniform, Commander Goss unveiled a commemorative plaque acknowledging almost a century of cooks’ training in HMAS Cerberus, quite fitting for someone who has been part of that story for more time than anyone else has.
Commander Goss is currently writing a ‘Submariner’s Cook Book’ which is a satirical look at some unique dishes he served during his time. Recipes include the infamous ‘Train Smash’, which is leftovers mixed with tinned tomatoes and usually served for breakfast.