THE first lady of the Royal Australian Navy fleet that was based at HMAS Stirling for 13 years departed Rockingham for the last time this week.
HMAS Darwin was back in WA waters taking part in the recent Exercise Ocean Explorer before returning to Sydney. The guided missile frigate is the oldest warship in the navy and in February was presented with a newly-created perpetual trophy to recognise the importance and experience of senior ships.
HMAS Darwin was commissioned in Seattle, USA in 1984 and was based at HMAS Stirling from 1993 to 2006 before moving to Garden Island, Sydney.
It is due to be decommissioned from service later this year and several former crew members contacted by the Weekend Courier would like to see the ship preserved as a floating museum.
Suggestions ranged from having the ship located in Darwin, next to the HMAS Vampire at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney or at a location in WA.
Michael Wurth said he was part of the ship’s commissioning crew and would like to see her as a museum ship in Darwin.
“She is the only warship named after Darwin and there has been an ongoing connection between the two since before commissioning,” Mr Wurth said. “It would be a tragedy if she is scuttled.”
Another commissioning crew member John Tregoning also backed the Darwin museum option.
“Her motto was ‘resurgent’ and her crest was the phoenix that rose from the flames like Darwin did from Cyclone Tracy and the Japanese bombing raids in 1942,” he said.
Greg Dowling said the ship should become a floating museum in WA.
Luke Doherty backed the ship being located at the National Maritime Musuem, but if it was to be scuttled, Cockburn Sound would be a good location.
A Department of Defence spokesman said HMAS Darwin will be decommissioned at Fleet Base East, Sydney, later in 2017.
“The disposal strategy has not yet been determined,” he said.