Melbourne celebrates 25 years of service

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Robert White (author), LSCSO David Gregg (photographer)

Topic(s): Training, Operations, Helicopters, MH-60R Seahawk, Squadrons, HMAS Melbourne (F05), Deployments (Non-Operations)

HMAS Melbourne crew celebrates the 25th anniversary of Melbourne's commissioning at Fleet Base East after a successful first of class flight trials period. (photo: LSCSO David Gregg)
HMAS Melbourne crew celebrates the 25th anniversary of Melbourne's commissioning at Fleet Base East after a successful first of class flight trials period.

HMAS Melbourne has celebrated 25 years since she entered service with the Royal Australian Navy, proving her motto, ‘She gathers strength as she goes’.

The guided missile frigate has steamed more than 1.5 million kilometres - about 37 times the earth’s circumference - and clocked up almost 62,000 hours underway, since commissioning on 15 February 1992 at Station Pier, Melbourne.

Commanding Officer Commander Charles Bourne said the frigate still plays a pivotal role in the Australian fleet. 

“We are one of only three long-range air defence ships in the Navy and will remain so until the new Hobart class destroyers arrive,” Commander Bourne said. 

“We have just completed trials for the MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters in order to ensure the aircraft can be safely operated from the ship. These helicopters are state-of-the-art technology and Melbourne is leading the charge in bringing this capability into the fleet aboard these frigates.”

Ship’s Warrant Officer Stephen Cheeseman, a member of the original commissioning crew, said there was still plenty of life left in Melbourne as she continues to serve her country.

“To be given the opportunity to once again serve in this esteemed warship as the Ship’s Warrant Officer is a very humbling and proud moment,’ Warrant Officer Cheeseman said. 

“As with the commissioning crew, the current crew is a professional and dedicated fighting unit, very capable of meeting Navy’s aim to fight and win at sea.”

Melbourne has had a distinguished career, completing eight Middle Eastern deployments, seizing 977 kilograms of heroin on her last tour of duty. 

She has deployed operationally to East Timor and also in support of border operations to the north of Australia.

Melbourne was the lead ship for the development of the Nulka Active Missile Decoy system, won the Duke of Gloucester Cup twice for best ship in the fleet, and most recently conducted the MH-60R helicopter first of class flight trials off the east coast of Australia. 

She was the first of two Adelaide class built by Australian Marine Engineering Consolidated at Williamstown in Victoria, the other being her sister ship HMAS Newcastle.

Laid down 12 July 1985 and launched 5 May 1989, Melbourne was commissioned on 15 February 1992, joining her five other sister ships as the first gas turbine powered ships in the Royal Australian Navy.

A long-range escort capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction, Melbourne is capable of engaging simultaneous threats from aircraft, surface vessels and submarines.

There have been three Royal Australian Navy ships to bear the name Melbourne: a light cruiser (1913-1928), an aircraft carrier (1955-1982) and the current ship. 

Melbourne (III) proudly wears the battle honours of East Timor 2000 and Persian Gulf 2002 as well as three inherited honours. 

Melbourne is participating in Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER from 13 February to 10 March, involving 17 warships from the United States, Italian, Spanish and New Zealand navies, held off the coast of Western Australia training ships in high-end war fighting.