The Royal Australian Navy’s Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate, HMAS Darwin (FFG 04) transited through Sydney Heads into her home port, Fleet Base East, for the last time, on Nov. 27.
Darwin was escorted through Sydney Heads by Navy’s newest ship HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) 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”, he added.
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.
HMAS Darwin is a long-range escort frigate that undertakes roles including area air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. The ship is capable of countering simultaneous threats from the air, surface and sub-surface.
Darwin’s principal weapons are the Standard medium range anti-aircraft missile and Harpoon anti-ship missile, both of which are launched from the Mk 13 launcher on the forecastle.
A 76 mm gun to counter both aircraft and surface threats is fitted forward of the funnel and one 20 mm Phalanx close-in weapon system for anti-missile defence is located above the helicopter hangars.
The ship’s sensor package includes long range radars for air and surface surveillance, electronic warfare surveillance sensors and the Australian Nulka Anti-Ship Missile Defence system.
Darwin is also fitted with the Electro Optical Tracking System (EOTS) with combined optical and infra-red sensors for detection and tracking. An Australian software based command and control system processes information as well as target data linked from other ships and aircraft.
For long range anti-submarine tasks, Darwin is equipped with a flight deck and hangars for two Seahawk helicopters. The Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk is an all weather, twin engine, 3 crew helicopter. Its primary role is Undersea Warfare for which it carries a range of sonobuoys and can deliver up to two torpedoes.
Other roles include over the horizon targeting, surveillance, boarding support, Search and Rescue (SAR) and utility operations. Its sensors include Radar, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD). For close-in anti-submarine defence the ship is fitted with two Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes.