TOURISM Minister Paul Papalia is open to the possibility of the HMAS Darwin becoming a floating museum somewhere in WA.
The 33-year-old guided missile frigate is the oldest warship in the navy and is due to be decommissioned in Sydney later this year.
The ship visited Rockingham, where it was based from 1993 to 2006, for what was expected to be the last time in March while taking part in the Ocean Explorer Exercise.
Mr Papalia said it was “important” to preserve military history and HMAS Darwin’s contribution “should be honoured”.
“The Government would need to consider the tourism benefits to WA of securing such a project, however, I’m open to looking at these opportunities,” he said.
Brand MHR Madeleine King agreed the ship’s contribution to Australia’s military history should be honoured.
“With WA playing an important role in the defence of the nation, the possibility of the Darwin remaining in our waters post-decommissioning is worth exploring,” she said.
Rockingham RSL member Jennifer Sciortino said HMAS Darwin could become the “pride of the marina, like in Darling Harbour”.
She believed it would attract many tourists and there were many ex-navy personnel in the region who could help maintain it.
“After all, isn’t Rockingham the home of the navy on the west coast?” she said.
Ms Sciortino said it would be a great tourist opportunity and there were facilities close by for its maintenance.
Former crewmembers have expressed their desire for the ship to become a floating museum, with possible locations including the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Darwin or a WA site.
Michael Wurth was part of the ship’s commissioning crew and would like to see it become 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.”