The Australian Defence Force and the defence industry have marked the 50-year anniversary of the commissioning of the HMAS Platypus submarine base in a ceremony that remembered lost Australian submariners.
Hundreds of people, including Minister for Defence Marise Payne, joined Deputy Chief of the Navy Rear Admiral Mike Noonan AM to dedicate a memorial on the site of ex-HMAS Platypus, Australia’s decommissioned east coast submarine base, honouring the 42 submariners that have died while serving as members of the Australian submarine force.
"The memorial dedicated today will remind all Australians of their sacrifice," RADM Noonan said.
Vice Admiral (Ret'd) Ian MacDougall AC, AFSM – a former Chief of Naval Staff who was the Executive Officer of HMAS Oxley, the first Australian Oberon Class submarine to berth at Platypus 50 years ago – also paid tribute to those submariners who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"There is a measure of sadness that many who were here 50 years ago have passed away," said VADM MacDougall.
"In submarine parlance, they are still on patrol. They are not forgotten and are owed a debt of gratitude for building the foundations upon which the submarine force of today grew and will continue to do so."
Minister Payne said the new memorial will serve as reminder to Australians of submariners contributions to the defence and security of Australia.
"The new memorial reminds all Australians of the unique and dangerous nature of the work submariners undertake for our nation," Minister Payne said.
“Our entire economy is dependent on secure and open sea lanes, and submarines are critical in keeping these lanes available for all nations to freely navigate the oceans and conduct maritime trade.
“Submarines are a key asset in our efforts to enhance the stability and reinforce the rules-based order in our region; as well as reducing the risk of regional disputes or armed conflict.
“Our submariners’ legacy continues with the Collins Class submarine capability and into the future as we design and build a new class of 12 regionally superior submarines."
The Submariners’ Memorial is part of an urban renewal project at the Platypus site. HMAS Platypus and the torpedo workshops were closed in 1999 and are being transformed into a public space following $20 million in funding from the Commonwealth government and $3.8 million from the Sydney Harbour Trust Fund.
The site will have improved access and new open spaces, and the former workshops will be adapted for a range of recreational, community and commercial activities.