Australian-US military memories preserved

Published on LEUT Richard Morris (author), Unknown (photographer)

US Navy Personnel Lieutenant Sam Ward USN  and EMN1 Shawn Milender from sister ship, the 688 Los Angeles Class Nuclear Submarine USS HOUSTON, who embarked in HMAS PERTH for the passage from FBW to Jakarta to participate in the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the wreck sites of HMAS Perth I and USS Houston II (photo: Unknown)
US Navy Personnel Lieutenant Sam Ward USN and EMN1 Shawn Milender from sister ship, the 688 Los Angeles Class Nuclear Submarine USS HOUSTON, who embarked in HMAS PERTH for the passage from FBW to Jakarta to participate in the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the wreck sites of HMAS Perth I and USS Houston II

Joint maritime military history has been marked with sailors from Australia and the United States commemorating the loss of ships during the Second World War, in the waters where the ships sank.

Two United States Navy submariners, Lieutenant Samuel Ward and Electrician's Mate (Nuclear) 1st class Shaun Milender, from the Los Angeles-class attack submarine, USS Houston, sailed onboard HMAS Perth as she transited to Jakarta in June.

HMAS Perth and USS Houston have a shared legacy, one which was forged in the volatile seas of the Sunda Strait and continues today.

Perth I and Houston IIwere both lost in a valiant action just after midnight on 1 March 1942, against a Japanese Invasion Fleet of nearly 90 ships. Today, their wrecks lie together, still on watch- the ghosts of the Sunda Strait. 

Officers and sailors of their modern namesakes conducted a wreath-laying ceremony over the wrecks of both vessels, paying respects to a historical legacy. 


Perth 
Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Darin MacDonald said it was an excellent opportunity to share some common practice and share some past glories.

"Perth and Houston have a shared history dating back 74 years.  It is great that we could invite the USN guys on for the transit and especially for the important wreath laying ceremony,” he said.

The submarine Houston is scheduled to be decommissioned, after more than 30 years of service, on 26 August 2016. 

Through sheer coincidence and probably a little bit of fate, that date coincides with HMAS Perth’s tenth anniversary of commissioning. 

Through coordination between the Commanding Officers of both ships, Commander Scott McGinnis, of the US Navy, and Australia's Captain Ivan Ingham, Lieutenant Ward and Electrician's Mate Milender were given the opportunity to sail in Perth.

For the submariners, the transit to Jakarta was a breath of fresh air.

“This is fantastic, it's nice to see the sun every day,” Lieutenant Ward said.

Not all of their time in Perth was laid back, however.

Their tour included hands-on experience in damage control exercises, active input into warfare and leadership discussions, tours of the propulsion systems and five-inch gun firings. 

It was also a great opportunity for Perth sailors and officers to gain an inside perspective on life as a United States Navy submariner.