CONSTRUCTION of the sail training ship Young Endeavour II has officially begun at the Birdon shipyard at Port Macquarie.

A keel-laying ceremony marked the occasion in the Australian government’s new vessel to replace the brigantine sail training ship Young Endeavour.

Commodore Ashley Papp CSC, RAN – on behalf of Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond – and Tammy Bugler, co-owner and chief financial officer at Birdon, each laid coins on the keel, in a naval tradition to bestow good fortune upon the vessel construction and all who sail onboard.

Commodore Papp shared the motto inscribed on the special coin surrounding the Chief of Navy crest, “Service before Self”.

“These three words epitomise what we in the Navy look to,” he said.

“That is, each of us through our knowledge, skill and experience can contribute to the efforts of the whole organisation.”

More than 80 guests, industry leaders, and Commonwealth representatives gathered to witness the ceremony.

Birdon general manager defence Joe Smith said: “The keel laying ceremony is a proud moment in the evolution of the project and is a testament to the dedication of the hard-working teams at Birdon, our subcontractors, suppliers, and the Department of Defence”.