The Royal Australian Navy has decommissioned Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Wollongong (P92) at a ceremony in HMAS Cairns after 15 years of service. Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley, CSC, RAN, attended the ceremony and recognised the service of the Ship’s Company. HMAS Wollongong has protected Australia against unauthorised entry, breaches of customs, fisheries protection, and upheld immigration and drugs legislation. Wollongong has served as part of Operations AUGURY (Philippines), SOLANIA (South West Pacific) and APEC ASSIST (PNG) and the 2019 G20 Summit in Japan. Approximately 30 crew of Wollongong recently marched through the streets of the boat’s namesake city, Wollongong in the traditional last parade before decommissioning.
Commanding Officer HMAS Wollongong, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Hams, said,”Since commissioning in 2007, HMAS Wollongong has worked alongside Border Force, Australian Fisheries and the Australian Federal Police as part of border protection operations. Of note, HMAS Wollongong has steamed almost one million kilometres throughout its service and I commend the professionalism, dedication, and passion of the crews who have served.”
“HMAS Wollongong and the crews who have served in the vessel have made a significant contribution to our national interest. These professional and dedicated men and women have protected our nation’s borders and offshore maritime interests from illegal activity. While today’s decommissioning is a necessary part of renewing our fleet, it is also an opportunity to honour the contribution made by the crews who have served Australia in HMAS Wollongong. Navy is transitioning to 12 new Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels. These boats have greater range and endurance than our existing boats. This will allow Navy to protect Australian interests over great distances and in more complex maritime environments,” Rear Admiral Earley said.
HMAS Wollongong (P92) was the tenth of fourteen Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPB) constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built by Austal Ships at Henderson, Western Australia, as part of a $553 million contract between the Federal Government and Defence Maritime Services. The Armidale class vessels continued the legacy of service established by the RAN’s former Attack and Fremantle Class Patrol boats. The larger, more capable ACPBs were characterised by good seakeeping qualities, improved range and endurance, as well as hosting a state-of-the-art surveillance system. They contributed significantly over two decades to myriad border protection and maritime security operations, both in Australian waters and throughout the south-west Pacific.
Only 15 years of service? Barley “broken In”! Hope they go to a deserving nation. Cheers!