Darwin sails into Sydney Harbour for final time

Published on LEUT Ben Willee (author), AB Tara Byrne (photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base East

Topic(s): Fleet Base East, HMAS Darwin (F04)

HMAS Darwin flies her decommissioning pennant as she sails toward Fleet Base East for the final time as a commissioned ship. (photo: Able Seaman Tara Byrne)
HMAS Darwin flies her decommissioning pennant as she sails toward Fleet Base East for the final time as a commissioned ship.

Twelve former Commanding Officers have sailed onboard Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Darwin, today as she transited through Sydney Heads into her home port for the last time. 

Darwin was escorted through Sydney Heads by Navy’s newest ship HMAS Hobart for a traditional “cheer ship” as she passed the fleet before being welcomed alongside Garden Island by former sailors, officers and support staff.

The Adelaide Class frigate is scheduled to be decommissioned at the end of the year to make way for the Navy’s new fleet of Hobart Class Guided Missile Destroyers. 

Darwin’s Commanding Officer, Commander Phillip Henry, said the significance of the final passage was not lost on the ship’s company.

Darwin has a proud history of 33 years of service and every member of the crew both past and present have contributed to that,” Commander Henry said.

“We all want to see her farewelled in a manner fitting this significant occasion.

“It will be sad to see her go but it is time to make way for the newer and more capable Destroyers.”

Twelve former Commanding Officers, including Captain Martyn Bell, joined the ship in Jervis Bay for an overnight steam to commemorate the end of her long and distinguished career in the fleet.

“It’s fantastic to be back in this ship. It was the highlight of my Navy career to be the Commanding Officer of Darwin,” Captain Bell said. 

Darwin was commissioned on 21 July 1984 and in the course of her duties has steamed more than a million nautical miles across the globe.

She has deployed to operations in Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands as well as seven times to the Middle East region.

On her most recent deployment to the Middle East for Operation MANITOU in 2016, Darwin and her ship’s company completed three seizures of heroin worth $800 million of the coast of Africa.

Darwin will decommission in a traditional Navy ceremony on December 09th.