The dock had been based at the Royal Navy Depot at Reykjavik, Iceland and was undertaking the longest ocean tow in history, at that time, from Reykjavik to Sydney, a 16,000-mile voyage lasting nine months. AFD 17, which had been re-assigned to the British Pacific Fleet in Sydney, departed Iceland on 13 September 1944, calling at the Clyde, Gibraltar, Aden, Cochin and Fremantle, before finally arriving in Sydney at the end of May 1945.
The dock had suffered some damage during the many legs of the voyage to Sydney and consequently did not become operational on arrival. She was repaired at Mort’s Dock and Cockatoo Dockyard, however, saw no active duty with the British Pacific Fleet. When the war ended, she was transferred on loan to the Royal Australian Navy before finally being purchased by the Australian Government for 75,000 pounds in 1948.
Photos above show AFD17 in Fremantle 1945
In her 22 years of service with the RAN, AFD 17 completed 641 dockings of RAN and Royal Navy vessels including tugs, frigates and submarines. Her last docking was the Royal Navy’s submarine HMS Taciturn in March 1964. Soon after she was withdrawn from service and sold for scrap. Before the dock was towed away to the breakers yard, her two electric cranes were installed at Fitzroy Wharf where they remained in use until the wharf was closed in 1991