On This Day
1976-1999 > Post Vietnam
On This Day - 1976-1999
- May 15, 1999
The Huon class mine hunter coastal HMAS HUON, was commissioned. HUON was laid down in ADI Yard, Newcastle, NSW, and launched on 12 July 1997.
- April 26, 1999
HMAS Tobruk II was assigned the difficult task of supporting the investigation and recovery of a RAAF F-111G aircraft which had crashed on the Malaysian Island of Pulau Aur while participating in an International Air Defence Exercise. Tragically both the F-111’s aircrew, Flight Lieutenant Anthony Short and Squadron Leader Stephen Hobbs, were killed in the accident. Members of Tobruk’s crew, along with the RAAF Accident Investigation Team, erected a white cross at the crash site in memory of the aircrew.
- April 24, 1999
HMAS PERTH, (destroyer), and HMAS ARUNTA, (frigate), arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, (Saigon), Vietnam, for a four day port visit. This was the first visit to Vietnam for Australian ships since the end of the Vietnam War. The following day an ANZAC Day dawn service was held onboard PERTH, which had seen action during the Vietnam War.
- December 29, 1998
HMAS NEWCASTLE, (guided missile frigate), located the damaged yacht SOLO GLOBE CHALLENGER. Two injured crewmen were transferred from the yacht to NEWCASTLE, while the yacht waited for a trawler to tow her into the port of Eden, NSW. NEWCASTLE also located the damaged yacht BUSINESS POST NAIAD, with two dead crewmen onboard. The other seven crewmen had been rescued the day before by the Careflight helicopter. NEWCASTLE stood by the yacht until the NSW Police Launch NEMISIS arrived to tow the vessel to Sydney. Of the 115 yachts which started the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, only 44 completed the race, five yachts sank and six lives were lost. 55 people were airlifted from yachts, and approximately 53 people had been injured when their yachts were damaged or sunk during the storm on 26-28 December.
- December 28, 1998
At 0320 a RAN Sea King helicopter winched onboard three injured crewmen from the badly damaged yacht SWORD OF ORION, during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
At the same time a second Sea King was searching for the yacht WINSTON CHURCHILL, using her night vision capability, (the yacht had actually sunk, but at 2130 that evening a liferaft with two of her crew in it was spotted by another Sea King helicopter, and the men were winched to safety).
In both cases the aircrewman of the Sea King helicopters were required to enter the water to affect the rescue.
At 0400 HMAS NEWSCASTLE, (guided missile frigate), sailed from Sydney to also join the search for missing and damaged yachts. Subsequently the aircrewmen of both helicopters, (PO B.J. Lee and PO B.S. Pashley), were awarded the Bravery Medal. Group Citations for Bravery were also awarded to three RAN Sea King Helicopter crews.
- December 27, 1998
The RAN was requested to provide assistance to rescue yachtsmen involved in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Exceptionally strong winds and heavy seas had damaged several yachts, including several that were dismasted or capsized. HMAS NEWCASTLE, (guided missile frigate), was order to sail at short notice, and two Sea King Helicopters from NAS Nowra were activated to assist Police and other rescue helicopters
- December 12, 1998
The ANZAC class frigate HMAS ARUNTA, was commissioned. ARUNTA was laid down in Tenix Williamstown Dockyard, VIC, and launched on 28 June 1996.
- November 14, 1998
The Royal Australian Navy’s first female pilot, Sub Lieutenant Natalee McDougall, RAN, graduated from the Australian Defence Academy’s helicopter training facility after 17 months of intensive classroom and practical training at RAAF Base Fairbairn. She joined 723 Squadron the following January.
- September 11, 1998
HMAS TORRENS, (destroyer escort), was decommissioned at HMAS STIRLING, after a career lasting 27 years. TORRENS was the last of the six River class destroyer escorts, which commenced service in the RAN during the 1960’s, and early 1970’s. TORRENS was sunk as a target in June 1999, by a Mk 48 torpedo, fired from HMAS FARNCOMB, (Collins class submarine)
- May 5, 1998
A massive fire breaks out in the engine room of HMAS WESTRALIA, (tanker), then operating off the Western Australian coast, which leads to the deaths of four RAN personnel. Those killed were MIDN Megan Pelly, RAN, PO Shaun Smith, LS Bradley Meek, and AB Phillip Carroll. An enquiry into the accident revealed that the Navy had allowed inappropriate flexible fuel hoses to be fitted to the engines during a recent refit, and that one of these leaked and sprayed vaporized fuel onto the hot engine, which caused a huge fireball to engulf the engine room.