United States Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathon Greenert has paid his respects at the USS Peary memorial during a recent visit to Darwin.
Joined by the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, Admiral Greenert laid a wreath at the base of the memorial – a salvaged 4-inch deck gun – honouring the lives of 88 US sailors killed in action during the first of more than 100 Japanese air attacks on northern Australia in 1942.
A fleet of 188 aircraft attacked Darwin at 9:58am on Thursday, 19 February 1942, launched from four Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carriers and their battle group located in the Timor Sea – the same battle group attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii just two months prior.
In total, 235 people were killed and approximately 400 wounded in the Darwin raids - 131 of them were US service personnel. The entire air defence was flown by Americans on the day in ten US Air Force P-40 Kittyhawk fighters, nine were destroyed. Eleven ships were sunk, with the largest loss of life from the destroyer USS Peary, with 88 killed in action.
The USS Peary memorial in Bicentennial Park on the Darwin Esplanade consists of a plaque and one of the 4-inch deck guns recovered from the Peary and restored by the Royal Australian Navy. The gun is aimed towards the Peary’s final resting place in the harbour.
Admiral Greenert also took an opportunity to visit Fleet Command Unit, HMAS Coonawarra, view local port infrastructure and visit Commander Northern Command, Commodore Brenton Smyth to learn about the role of Headquarters Northern Command in the defence of Northern Australia.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150250