After long and distinguished service in the Royal Australian Navy, decommissioned vessel ex-HMAS Darwin will receive a new lease on life as a dive wreck in the waters off Tasmania, enabling future generations to appreciate the ship and driving tourism.
Ex-HMAS Darwin was commissioned in July 1984 and was a long-range escort frigate that undertook roles including area air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. In August 1990, HMAS Darwin became the first Australian ship to deploy to the Persian Gulf.
In 2014, she intercepted over 1,000 kilograms of heroin and over 6,000 kilograms of hashish off the east coast of Africa. In 2016, she intercepted heroin worth $800 million and a cache of weapons from a fishing vessel off the coast of Oman.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne said she was pleased that Darwin would call Tasmania home after sailing over 1 million nautical miles during her 33 years of service.
Darwin was granted three battle honours:
- East Timor 1999;
- Persian Gulf 2002-03; and
- Iraq 2003.
She was decommissioned in December 2017.
Nationals senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said the decision to gift ex-HMAS Darwin to Tasmania would give a much welcome boost to the local tourism sector, creating new jobs and bringing more visitors to the east coast.
"The creation of a dive wreck offers small businesses in Tasmania the opportunity to capitalise on national and international interest to dive in the magnificent Tasmanian waters," Martin said.
The Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments will work together on funding arrangements for the vessel’s scuttling.
"The addition of a dive wreck will super charge our already booming tourism industry, attracting diving enthusiasts from all around the world, who will stay longer, and spend more in our local communities, particularly in the St Helens region," senator for Tasmania Jonathon Duniam said.