HMAS Darwin Decommissioning….

Written by ahq_admin

9 December 2017

 Today, after 33 years of service, having sailed more than 1 million nautical miles, having been home to over 4300 sailors, after visiting 34 countries, firing 37 missiles, 56 torpedoes and over 9500 76mm rounds the Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG04) HMAS Darwin was decommissioned. 

And I had the pleasure of being there to witness the event along with family and friends of the current crew, passed HMAS Darwin crew members and Commanding Officers and, of course, several VIPs. 

Throughout the event a master of ceremonies explained each step and introduced each speaker

The Navy band marched on

And we were entertained by this young lady, a singer with the RAN Band… apologies for not getting her name, but she sang beautifully

 As the crew lined the deck of their ship for the last time…. 

 first the Commander Australian Fleet, Read Admiral Stuart Mayer AO CSC and Bar RAN addressed the assembled. He included in his speech a fabulous version of the story of HMAS Darwin written in rhyme…. 

Next the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN addressed the audience. 

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin, CMDR Phillip Henry CSC RAN addressed the audience

Chaplain Richard Quadrio, one of our recipients when HMAS Darwin last deployed to the Middle East, lead the prayers as the crew stood with their caps off.  

After a bible reading by LEUT McIntosh and a Prayer of Thanks Giving read by ABMC Harris, Chaplain Quadrio lead us in the Lord’s Prayer.   The Fleet Commander read the Prayer for the Navy before we sang The Naval Hymn.

After the assembled sang the National Anthem the order was given to March off the Ship’s Company

The Australian National Flag and the White Ensign Flags were lowered with the white ensign being passed to the CMDR Henry who then passed it to the Fleet Commander for safe keeping until such time as another HMAS Darwin is commissioned.

I don’t have photos of everything else that happened but if you are interested….

One minute’s silence was observed for the men and women who served in HMAS Darwin.

At last the ship’s company conducted the final march past and HMAS Darwin was no longer. 

Several special events were yet to happen.   A large group of the COMMISSIONING Crew were there to witness her final moments and assembled alongside her for a photo after the ceremony was over. 

These two lovely ladies are friends of my friend Tamara Sloper-Harding who accompanied me today. They are, believe it or not, both called Wendy, and were the first females to serve on HMAS Darwin.

And no ceremony is complete without a cake to cut….  what a beauty
Tradition dictates that the Commanding officer and the youngest member of the crew assist in cutting the cake, here joined by the Chief of Navy, watched on by the Fleet Commander.

 CMDR Henry introduced me to Mr and Mrs Acreman, whose son, Cameron, passed away during HMAS Darwin’s last deployment to the Middle East and I presented them with one of our Fallen Warrior Quilts in his memory.
The quilt features both the RAN Crest and the HMAS Darwin crest and was made from blocks sent in by many volunteers. The top was pieced by Lynn and it was quilted by Bridget.

It was presented in a lovely smaller version of our laundry bag made by Wendy F just for the occasion.

Finally, myself, Tamara and the XO, Jen.  

And with CMDR Phillip Henry who was promoted to Captain today as well.   What a special time and place for it too and very well deserved.
Congratulations CAPT Henry.

Sorry there were not more photos.   It was a very special occasion and it was hard not to get swept up in the moment and forget to take pictures at all. 

Finally a huge congratulations to the group who did a lot of work towards making sure today ran smoothly and one who rarely get a mention… a group called Navy Events.   They, along with the crew of HMAS Darwin, stage managed the whole event and, as far as I could tell, it went off without a hitch and was a huge success… and an event that I will long remember. 

Thank you everyone for all your efforts.  It was a very special day and I felt very honoured to be invited. 

Till next time…… keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree xx

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