Australian Navy Patrol Boats Named In Dual Ceremony

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Following the recent commissioning of HMAS Larrakia and Bathurst into Navy service, a dual Naming Ceremony for the fourth and fifth Armidale Class Patrol Boats to be launched was held today at the Austal shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. Twelve patrol boats are currently contracted for delivery to the Royal Australian Navy. The 56 metre, all-aluminium monohull vessels were named “Albany” by Mrs Annette Knight AM JP CITWA, Former Mayor of the Town of Albany, and “Pirie” by Mrs Margaret Humphry, Daughter of Lieutenant J Ellershaw, Gunnery Officer Bathurst Class Minesweeper, HMAS Pirie. The ceremony was attended by approximately 150 senior figures from the Royal Australian Navy, Department of Defence, Government and industry including The Hon Christopher Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, as representative of the Minister for Defence and Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders. Speaking at the ceremony, Austal’s Executive Chairman, John Rothwell, paid tribute to the significance of the Royal Australian Navy contract to Austal’s growth and future ambitions as a naval and military shipbuilder, “With our reputation firmly established in the commercial marketplace for high speed ferries we have recently commenced construction on a large, revolutionary new combat ship for the US Navy. This, in conjunction with the fleet of patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy is a reflection of the growing presence of Austal in the defence market and a significant credit to the design and construction skills of the Austal Team.” “Our ambitions do not stop there as we maintain a strong focus on future opportunities both in Australia and internationally,” Mr Rothwell said.

Austal teamed with Defence Maritime Services as the Prime Contractor, to win in 2003 the A$553 million “output specified” contract to provide and support through their service lives a fleet of patrol boats to replace the ageing Fremantle Class, which have patrolled Australia’s maritime zones for the past quarter century. Austal is responsible for the design and construction of the Armidale Class vessels. DMS is managing the overall project requirements, including establishment of a fleet management organisation that will provide integrated maintenance, logistic and crew-training support to the vessels throughout their operational lives. To be based in the ports of Darwin and Cairns, the Armidale Class fleet will primarily operate within Australia’s Marine Jurisdictional Zones carrying out surveillance, interception, investigation, apprehension and the escort to port of vessels suspected of illegal fisheries, quarantine, customs or immigration offences. The ships will also be utilised to protect our valuable offshore oil and gas installations. The patrol boat “Albany” will be the first Royal Australian Navy vessel to bear the name and has been selected by the Chief of Navy to commemorate and honour the coastal City of Albany in the south west of Western Australia. Albany is the birthplace of the ANZAC Day Dawn Service and the assembly point from which many Australian and New Zealand troops departed for WWI on 1 November 1914. The original HMAS Pirie was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers (commonly known as Corvettes) built during WWII. On April 11 1943, whilst escorting the British vessel SS Hanyang, Pirie suffered a direct hit during a heavy bombing attack off Oro Bay, New Guinea, and seven crew lost their lives. From April to July 1944 HMAS Pirie was mainly engaged in escorting convoys moving along Australia’s north coast between Thursday Island and Darwin. The vessel also carried out duties as a minesweeper to clear the defensive minefields in the Great Barrier Reef. After a visit to her namesake town, Port Pirie, the vessel arrived in Sydney in February 1946 where she was recommissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Pirie. She was transferred to the Turkish Navy in 1946 and the Turkish Government retired her from service in 1984.

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