Navy commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fire on board former HMAS Westralia

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Memorial Service, HMAS Westralia (II)

Crew from HMAS Sirius are formed during the HMAS Westralia Fire 20th Year Anniversary Memorial Service on the HMAS Stirling Quarterdeck in honour of the tragedy that claimed the lives of four crew members: Midshipman Megan Pelly, Petty Officer Shaun Smith, Leading Seaman Bradley Meek, and Able Seaman Philip Carroll. (photo: LSIS Richard Cordell)
Crew from HMAS Sirius are formed during the HMAS Westralia Fire 20th Year Anniversary Memorial Service on the HMAS Stirling Quarterdeck in honour of the tragedy that claimed the lives of four crew members: Midshipman Megan Pelly, Petty Officer Shaun Smith, Leading Seaman Bradley Meek, and Able Seaman Philip Carroll.

A commemoration has been held at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia to remember the four lives that were lost 20 years ago in a fire on board the former supply vessel HMAS Westralia.

On May 5, 1998, soon after departing HMAS Stirling, a devastating fire broke out in the ship’s engine room. Despite the fire being brought under control, Midshipman Megan Pelly, Petty Officer Shaun Smith, Leading Seaman Bradley Meek and Able Seaman Phillip Carroll succumbed to the smoke and flames that engulfed the engine space.

Speaking at the memorial ceremony, Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, said the bravery and heroism of Westralia’s crew, and the loss of those who perished in the disaster would never be forgotten.

“We come here today to remember our comrades who paid the ultimate price in the service of their country,” he said.

“The lessons learned from HMAS Westralia have led to a range of improvements in safety. Navy is better placed to prevent these tragedies happening again.”

One of the ship’s lifeboats was recently restored and now serves as a permanent memorial at HMAS Stirling to the four personnel who lost their lives in the fire.