It was a significant occasion in early March for the crew of HMAS Dechaineux as it was the first official port visit conducted by any submarine – from any nation – to the southeast Asian nation. The port visit was also significant as the demonstration of the Collins Class submarine capability to the Kingdom of Brunei symbolised the growing Defence relationship between the two nations. HMAS Dechaineux will continue its South East Asian deployment before returning to Australia later this year.
To mark the occasion, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Noonan made a working visit to the submarine and welcomed His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince of Brunei and General of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, on board. Other dignitaries, including the Second Minister of Defence (Brunei), Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy, and the High Commissioner of Australia to Brunei, also visited the submarine. The dignitaries were welcomed on board for a tour of Dechaineux by the crew and plaques were exchanged to mark the significance of the occasion.
Based at Fleet Base West in Western Australia, HMAS Dechaineux is the fourth of the Collins class submarines to enter service in the Royal Australian Navy and they are a formidable element in Australia’s defence capability. Dechaineux was launched in Adelaide by Captain Dechaineux’s widow, Mrs Mary Purbrick on 12 March 1998 and commissioned at Fleet Base West on 23 February 2001 along with the fifth Collins Class submarine, HMAS Sheean. The ceremony was also attended by other members of Captain Dechaineux’s family.
HMAS Dechaineux’s operational characteristics and range have been tailored specifically for its defence and two-ocean surveillance role in the Royal Australian Navy. Designed to be as quiet as advanced technology can achieve, Collins class submarines have been developed from five generations of submarines designed and built by the Swedish Navy. One of the first submarines to be totally designed by computers, HMAS Dechaineux boasts a vast range of features. They include a high-performance hull form, highly automated controls, low indiscretion rates, high shock resistance, optimal noise suppression and an efficient weapons handling and discharge system.