Parramatta shows her new skin

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Mick Wheeler (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (photographer)

HMAS Parramatta being prepared to undock after her Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade at BAE Systems Henderson Shipyard, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Mack)
HMAS Parramatta being prepared to undock after her Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade at BAE Systems Henderson Shipyard, Western Australia.

A morning fog followed by a bright sun set the scene for HMAS Parramatta's return to the water after completion of the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade. 

Parramatta's undocking on 19 April at the BAE Systems Henderson Shipyard in Western Australia is the latest milestone to be achieved under the program that significantly enhances the capability of the ship's weapons and sensors systems. 

The upgrade includes the addition of a 'cupola' mast to house the CEA Phased Array Radar, upgrades and maintenance of combat, propulsion and electrical systems and painting in the new Royal Australian Navy 'haze grey'.

Parramatta moved to Henderson from Fleet Base West and was docked and placed on the hard stand in April 2015 before vital maintenance work, involving some 600,000 hours by 250 employees and 30 local subcontractors.

Once docked, the vessel was handed to the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group and the crew moved to sister ship HMAS Warramunga following her return to Navy service after completing a similar upgrade. 

Lieutenant Commander Felicity Petrie, Program Delivery Manager, has seen Parramatta visually and technologically transformed from the time that she docked at Henderson.

"Looking at HMAS Parramatta it may appear at first instance that the upgrade has just changed the paint scheme and seen the addition of the new cupola mast," she said.

"These changes however are just two of a number of significant changes that have taken place. 

"Major elements of the combat system were upgraded and maintained, large sections of the propulsion and electrical generation system were removed for overhaul prior to replacement and other equipment remaining onboard was maintained and overhauled."

The undocking was accompanied by a ribbon cutting ceremony by Mrs Jill Green who is the daughter of the late Lieutenant G.W.A. (Bill) Langford who was the Executive Officer of HMAS Parramatta II, lost in 1941 when she was torpedoed and sunk between Alexandria and Tobruk by German U Boat U559. 

Mrs Green has had a long association with Parramatta as the 'ship's Lady' having launched the vessel in June 2000.

Parramatta has moved alongside the Henderson Common User Facility to continue the next stage of the upgrade program and will relocate to Fleet Base West for final Harbour Acceptance Trials on 29 June 2016.

A change of command ceremony was also conducted on 21 April at Henderson Shipyard with Mrs Green, the Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Paul Garrard, and Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Mayer attending. Command of the ship was officially handed over to Commander Simon Howard and the ship's company of HMAS Stuart, swapped their ball caps and ship's patches over to represent HMAS Parramatta, marking the transition from one hull to the other.

HMAS Stuart is the final ship in the upgrade program, due to be docked in May and set for completion in mid-2017.