HMAS Melbourne’s final ahoy after 900,000 miles of service
HMAS Melbourne sails into Sydney Harbour for a decommissioning ceremony at Garden Island on Friday
12:00AM SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
Friday morning marked the end of an era for the “backbone” of the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS Melbourne arrived in a sunny Sydney Harbour for the end of its final voyage.
The 138m-long guided missile frigate docked at the Garden Island naval base for its decommissioning after 27 years of service, which included the display of pennant for the occasion and the raising of its battle ensign.
The vessel was deployed across Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East several times since it was commissioned in 1992.
Commander Marcus Buttler, the Melbourne’s final commanding officer, praised the ship’s recent four-month deployment to seas in north Asia as part of international maritime surveillance operations enforcing UN sanctions against North Korea.
“HMAS Melbourne has been deployed overseas for most of 2018 and 2019, showing what her ship’s company of hardworking navy personnel can do, and although today is bittersweet I am also very proud,” Commander Buttler told assembled personnel.
“Thousands of people have called this ship home over the past 27 years with many fond memories of their time aboard and I have no doubt many of them will be sad to see her seagoing service come to a close today.
“Our ship’s motto is ‘she gathers strength as she goes’, and she has continued to gather strength during the 900,000 miles steamed and 70,000 hours under way.
“HMAS Melbourne has kept up a high tempo right to the end, which is a testament to the love this crew has for her,” Commander Buttler said.
Melbourne was the last of the navy’s six Adelaide-class guided missile frigates in service, after its sister ship, HMAS Newcastle, was decommissioned in June.
Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead AM, Commander Australian Fleet, said the class of vessels had been the “backbone” of Australia’s naval operations.
“HMAS Melbourne deployed on operations across the globe including to the Middle East eight times, earning battle honours for her service in East Timor and the Persian Gulf,” he said.
“The Adelaide-class guided missile frigates have formed the backbone of our navy operations for decades and Melbourne has played a vital role, sailing more than 900,000 nautical miles since her commissioning in 1992,” Rear Admiral Mead said.
The navy’s phasing out of the Adelaide-class is part of a refresh of its fleet, with two of three new Hobart-class air warfare destroyers already in service.
A Defence Department spokeswoman did not respond to The Weekend Australian’s questions regarding the Melbourne’s future, but it is understood efforts are being made to sell the ship.
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