Silent service remembers sailors lost at sea

Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Location(s): Rockingham

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Submarine Force

Serving and ex-serving members and the general public gathered at the Rockingham Naval Memorial Park for the 30th anniversary of the loss of Able Seaman Underwater Controller Submarines Hugh Markcrow and Seaman Underwater Controller Damien Humphreys whom were both lost at sea whilst serving in HMAS Otama.  (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Serving and ex-serving members and the general public gathered at the Rockingham Naval Memorial Park for the 30th anniversary of the loss of Able Seaman Underwater Controller Submarines Hugh Markcrow and Seaman Underwater Controller Damien Humphreys whom were both lost at sea whilst serving in HMAS Otama.

A squally Careening Bay bounded past and present members of the Navy family, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder to mark the 30th anniversary of the loss of two Australian submariners lost at sea whilst serving in HMAS Otama.

On 3 August, at the fin of the former HMAS Orion in Rockingham Naval Memorial Park, Western Australia, past and present Navy members paused, reflected and laid a wreath to remember the lives lost of Able Seaman Underwater Control Submariner Hugh Marcrow and Seaman Underwater Control Damien Humphreys.

In the opening address, Commander Australian Submarine Force Captain Geoff Wadley said that the deaths were a stark reminder of just how unforgiving an environment the ocean can be, and the cost that can be paid when thing go wrong.

“You would be hard-pushed to find a more appropriate place to have this memorial service than in front of an Oberon class submarine fin - a fin that was sadly Hugh and Damian’s last refuge from the terror that lay in front of them.

“Our duty to, Hugh and to Damian is to prevent another such tragedy, and to ensure that future lessons do not demand such a high cost,” Captain Wadley said.

Australian Navy Chaplain David Underhill recited the ‘Prayer for the Navy’ at the ceremony and said he was moved by the number of people who attended the short memorial service, to remember two young sailors.

“It was a privilege to be at the ceremony," Chaplain Underhill said.

“During the time of silent remembrance, looking at the faces of those in attendance, it reminded me how important it is to have these opportunities to remember those lives that have been lost,” he said.

Able Seaman Markcrow and Seaman Humphreys were lost when the submarine Otama dived off the New South Wales coast on 3 August 1987.

The search continued for two days however their bodies were never recovered. 

Lest we forget.