Royal Australian Navy to decommission HMAS Darwin on Dec. 9

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is planning to decommission its Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate, HMAS Darwin (FFG 04) in a traditional Navy ceremony on Dec. 9 this year.

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 frigate has arrived into her home port, Fleet Base East, for the decommissioning ceremony after transiting through Sydney Heads for the last time, on Nov. 27.

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.

The Adelaide-class frigates will be replaced by the Navy’s new fleet of Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD). The first of the Hobart-class, HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) was commissioned on Sept. 23 this year. The second one, NUSHIP Brisbane/ the future HMAS Brisbane (DDG 41) has entered the first phase of sea trials (builder’s sea trials) recently.

HMAS Darwin

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.

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