On Saturday, 7 November, the City of Sydney’s namesake warship was decommissioned at a ceremony at her homeport of Garden Island, Sydney. HMAS Sydney (IV) was farewelled from the Royal Australian Navy by her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander David Murphy, along with 130 crew members and nearly 800 guests, including the Governor‑General and Minister for Defence.
For the decommissioning crew and their Commanding Officer, it was a bittersweet moment. When the Australian White Ensign was lowered from the ship and handed to Lieutenant Commander Murphy, as is the tradition for Navy during decommissioning ceremonies, he felt a strong sense of pride but also sadness.
“I am incredibly proud to have been involved with the story of Sydney and to have worked with such an amazing crew”, Lieutenant Commander Murphy said.
Lieutenant Commander David Murphy has commanded Sydney since March 2015, shortly after the ship sailed into Sydney Harbour for the final time on 28 February. The officer from Geelong, who joined the Navy as a Combat Systems Operator in 1996, has overseen the important final mission for the ship in 2015 as a Harbour Training Ship, following a long and distinguished history of service to Australia.
“In her time, Sydney has conducted maritime operations spanning the globe and steamed 959,627 nautical miles. She has been involved in operations in the Middle East, East Timor, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands,” said Lieutenant Commander Murphy.
Sydney has deployed to the Middle East four times. On the first occasion she took part in Operation DESERT STORM, the action against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War for which she earned a Meritorious Unit Citation in one of her proudest moments. Her fourth deployment to the Middle East was during the pinnacle of the 2003 Iraq War in support of allied forces. With 14 Battle Honours, the highest of any Australian warship, the ship’s motto “Thorough and Ready” cannot be disputed.
Sydney formally commenced Harbour Training Ship duties in March 2015, and after an extremely successful year will qualify 72 frigate-endorsed Marine Systems Technician’s (MST), eight Mk92 Fire Control System Electronic Technicians and support to numerous other Fleet and shore units, including synthetic exercises with the United States Navy 7th Fleet, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and diving support for Australian Clearance Diving Team 1, Damage Control Training for the Royal Australian Navy’s Combat Survivability School, and the Australian Army’s Tactical Assault Group - East during the visit by His Royal Highness Prince Harry.
“It has been a very busy year in which a great amount of training has been conducted onboard”, said Lieutenant Commander Murphy.
“Our accomplishments this year have directly enhanced the ongoing technical sustainment of the Surface Force until the arrival of HMAS Sydney (V)”.
Although decommissioned, Sydney will continue to serve in the Harbour Training Ship role until 11 December 2015.
What a ship!
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20153042.