HMAS Launceston Completes Final Border Patrols before Decommissioning in June

HMAS Launceston Completes Final Border Patrols before Decommissioning in June

HMAS Launceston Completes Final Border Patrols before Decommissioning in June

After Over 80 Years of Service, Armidale-class Patrol Boat Retires

Navy ship HMAS Launceston is wrapping up its final patrols this week, marking the end of a significant chapter in its more than 80-year involvement with the Royal Australian Navy. The ship, part of the Armidale-class patrol boat fleet, will be decommissioned on June 1, making way for the navy’s new Cape-class vessels.

The name HMAS Launceston has a rich history within the Royal Australian Navy. The first HMAS Launceston served in World War II and later spent nearly two decades in the Turkish navy. As the third iteration of the ship is decommissioned, the possibility of a future fourth HMAS Launceston remains uncertain. The Defence Department spokesperson confirmed that the name would be reconsidered along with other Australian cities and towns that have historical connections with the navy.

City of Launceston Mayor Danny Gibson, who resigned earlier this month, expressed his sentiment that the decommissioning of the current HMAS Launceston would mark the end of a proud era.

The ship’s final patrols have taken place north of Darwin. The crew members, who have been together for over 15 years, have formed a close-knit family on board. Joel Douglas, a former army reservist, shared his experience of serving on HMAS Launceston during Operation Sovereign Borders in 2013. He described the work as mentally challenging but one of the most enjoyable periods of his life. Catching and eating fresh fish during their downtime was a highlight for the crew.

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In contrast to recent border patrol missions, the first HMAS Launceston played a significant role in World War II. Commissioned in 1942 as part of the Bathurst-class corvettes, it served as a convoy ship for the British Eastern Fleet across the Indian Ocean. The ship participated in the Battle of Okinawa, known as one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific, with a high number of casualties.

After being decommissioned in 1946, the vessel continued its service in the Turkish navy under the name TCG Avancik. It later became a training facility for the Turkish Seamanship College. The fate of the outgoing HMAS Launceston remains unknown, with possibilities including sale to another navy.

Local historian Julian Burgess, who recently met the crew of HMAS Launceston, stated that they are eagerly anticipating an upgrade to the new Cape-class patrol boats. These vessels are considered the best and newest in the Australian fleet, highlighting the navy’s commitment to modernization.

Although it is unlikely that any of the Cape-class patrol boats will bear the name of Tasmania’s second-most populous city, there is still a possibility that the name HMAS Launceston will make a return in the future. Naval historian John Perryman suggested that the Launceston City Council write to the Chief of Navy to express their desire for the name to be considered again, emphasizing the importance of being proactive.

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