HMAS Stalwart
HMAS Stalwart
1964 - 2003
Royal Australian Navy

Built: Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney June 1964 - 1968
Launched: October 1966
Commissioned: February 1968
Displacement: 15,000 tons
Length: 515ft 6in
Breadth: 67ft 6in
Draught: 20ft 1in
Propulsion: Two six cylinder Scott-Sulzer diesel engines totalling 7,000hp, developing 10,740kW
Screws: Two
Speed: 20+ knots
Complement: 25 officers, 392 sailors
Pennant Number: A215, later D215
International Call Sign: VKCU

Type: Destroyer Tender Roles: Destroyer Tender, Fleet Flagship, Training Ship

Stalwart's maiden voyage from her homeport of Sydney included visits to Hobart, Adelaide, Fremantle and Melbourne. September found the Stalwart as part of Exercise Coral Sands, the largest Australian-directed maritime and amphibious exercise held in Australian waters. The Stalwart would have three chief geographic areas of service during its career:
Service outside of Australian territorial waters
Service within Australian waters
Service at its homeport of Sydney, due to the frequent lengthy periods spent here it would become known as 'Building 215'

For the purposes of this webpage the majority of the details refer to its lengthier deployments, especially those where it left Australia's territorial waters.

Early in May the Stalwart left Sydney for Singapore & provided medical assistance to a sailor on the Shell tanker Horomyn. Stalwart arrived in Singapore on May 21st berthing at Sembawang. Whilst here the Stalwart took part in several exercises. Stalwart returned to Sydney in the middle of July. Another exercise took place in the Indian Ocean during October.

Late in January Stalwart sailed via the Phillipines to the South China Sea for more exercises. This international exercise took place during the middle of February. After the conclusion of these exercises the ship made its first visit to Hong Kong, reaching there early in March. By month end Stalwart was back home at Sydney.

More international exercises in August and September found the Stalwart back in the South China Sea area, en-route visiting Port Moresby, Darwin & Singapore. Manila was visited on the return to Sydney.

Several visits were made to New Zealand this year, Wellington in late March, then again in September as part of a joint exercise, this trip also included a visit to Auckland before its eventual return to Sydney.

Stalwart visited Tasmania in mid-October for an exercise.

Stalwart's Christmas leave was disrupted by the devastation sustained at Darwin during the early hours of Christmas Day 1974 when Cyclone Tracy struck. In a huge mobilisation of emergency resources the Australian Navy played a critical role in providing support to the very heavily damaged area. The Stalwart sailed from Sydney on December 27th after loading a multitude of stores and supplies. The Stalwart arrived in Darwin on January 2nd 1975. The peacetime skills of the Stalwart's crew, in conjuction with its onboard workshop facilities were well utilised in the clean up efforts. The Stalwart spent almost a month docked at Darwin prior to returning to Sydney.

To mark Papua/New Guinea's independence Stalwart was deployed to Port Moresby arriving in the middle of September, joining in the festivities and providing a 101-gun salute on Independence Day itself.

On August 26 Stalwart sailed for Noumea, New Caledonia for a short visit, with the ship being open to visitors. By the middle of September Stalwart was back at Sydney in preparation for Navy week.

Another international exercise took place into October 1976 occurring in local waters. Following this Stalwart completed her first circumnavigation of Australia. At each port of call the Stalwart was a major item of interest especially on those days when the ship was opened up to visitors. Stalwart reached Sydney in time for Christmas leave.

By the ship's ninth birthday, celebrated in early February, the ship had steamed 132,167 nautical miles.

Stalwart took part in the celebrations providing tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and her Silver Jubilee. As part of these celebrations Stalwart visited Hobart for a week, arriving there on September 27th. Back in Sydney in early October more celebrations took place alongside other naval vessels.

Following completion of the Silver Jubilee celebrations the Stalwart headed north in mid October to South-East Asian waters for more exercises, arriving in Singapore on November 4th. After completion of the exercises on the return to Australia the ship made a goodwill visit to the Cocos Island on December 3rd, but was back in Sydney in time for Christmas leave.

The ship's tenth anniversary in February was spent as flagship for the Hobart Regatta. Following this it was back to Sydney for more mundane duties.

In the middle of May the Stalwart headed north to Port Moresby to assist of in the clean up of a former Navy oil installation

Early September found the Stalwart northbound for a ten week South East Asian deployment, visiting Ujung Pandang, Indonesia before reaching Singapore. The return to Sydney was at the end of November.

Stalwart deployed to Western Australia to take part in that state's 150th Anniversary celebrations, with stops at Adelaide and Perth where the ship and its crew took part in many festivities.

Late in July the ship deployed to Indian Ocean waters for a multi-national exercise. Later, in September a lengthy three-month deployment commenced, again in the Indian Ocean with visits to several countries. Ports visited included Singapore, Columbo & Bombay. By November 15th the Stalwart was back in Sydney.

As in previous years the ship's anniversary was spent as the flagship at February's Hobart Regatta. In late March it was off to Singapore again for a South-East Asian deployment visiting Darwin en-route, after leaving Singapore a goodwill visit was made to Penang. The return to Australia was via the west coast ports prior to reaching Sydney for a refit.

Another major international exercise took place in mid-October off the east coast of Australia, a challenging time for the Stalwart as she had only recently returned to service after a refit.

For the third year in a row the Stalwart deployed to Singapore for exercises in the South China Sea. Journeying north in late April Townsville, Darwin and the Cocos Islands were visited prior to reaching Singapore.

On June 30th 1982 the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne was paid off, Stalwart now became the new fleet Flagship. This brought additional responsibilities for the ship, which came at a time when her fleet maintenance roles were changing.

November found the Stalwart deployed to Western Australian waters for another multi-national exercise. The year ended as usual with the ship at Sydney for Christmas leave.

The Moomba festival at Melbourne during the middle of March saw the largest concentration of RAN ships since World War II, this included the Stalwart. After this it was another trip to Singapore arriving on March 31st, having steamed a monthly record of 7,203 miles. From Singapore it was north to Hong Kong. On April 12th the ship made a four day passage on a goodwill visit to Pusan, South Korea, the first visit by a Royal Australian Navy ship in fifteen years.

From here it was on to Yokosuka, Japan spending April 21st - 30th here, the Stalwart's first visit to Japan. ANZAC Day included time spent at the Commonwealth Memorial War cemetery, Yokohama. It was then south to the Phillipines, eight days were spent in reaching Manila, with international exercises taking place en-route. Manila was reached on May 8th. Departure was on May 11th, now heading for Jakarta, arriving here on May 17th. After a journey of 19,400 nautical miles in 92 days the Stalwart arrived back in Sydney on June 1st.

The first half of 1984 was spent locally however early in August the Stalwart sailed from Sydney on an extended Asian deployment, which included visits to Indonesia, the Philippines, Peoples Republic of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. Ports visited included Darwin, Udjung Pandang (August 21st - 24th), Manila, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. By October 7th the Stalwart was en-route to Surabaya (October 9th - 12th). From here the Stalwart returned to Australian waters and more exercises, Sydney was finally reached on November 15th 1984 after a voyage of 102 days.

Intensive local exercises during February were followed by six months spent at in her maintenance roles. After this quiet period more local exercises followed. Tragedy overtook the Stalwart near Darwin on October 22nd when a gas leak from the sullage tanks on the ship claimed the lives of three sailors and required treatment for sixty others. Numerous helicopter flights were made from the ship to Darwin to evacuate those overcome by the poisonous gas. An inquiry into the matter revealed that one pump was being used for two different purposes, and this, in conjunction with a valve irregularity permitted the mixing of materials that together produced quantities of the poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas.

By early November the Stalwart was back in Singapore for a major air defence exercise. Then it was off to Hong Kong and on to Subic Bay (November 20th - 21st). The expected return to Sydney did not happen, the Stalwart was diverted to Jervis Bay to take on stores & supplies destined for the Australian National Antartic Research Expedition base on Macquarie Island, a small island midway between Tasmania and the Antartic. The regular supply ship, the Nella Dan had become trapped in pack ice. The icebreaker Icebird had been sent to free the Nella Dan, but it had been delayed by hurricane force winds and pack ice.

The Stalwart had arrived in Hobart on December 2nd, then making the almost 900 mile trip to Macquarie Island in four days, arriving there early on December 6th. It took several days to ferry the supplies across to the island and exchange the research personnel. By December 12th the Stalwart was back at Sydney, mission accomplished.

This year was the 75th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy, the Stalwart taking part in many of the celebrations at ports around Australia. These festivities were interrupted on May 20th when Cyclone Namu ravaged the Solomon Islands, causing much loss of life and making homeless a large portion of the population. The Stalwart collected relief supplies from several Australian ports prior to arriving at Honiara on the last day of May. Similar to the cyclone that hit Darwin, the crew and resources of the Stalwart were used in a multitude of ways.

By mid June the Stalwart was back in Australian waters continuing on with the anniversary celebrations. Cities visited included Sydney, Adelaide, Fremantle, Perth, Darwin and then home to Sydney, where on October 6th the anniversary celebrations reached their height. The year closed with the ship back in Sydney.

On Anzac Day the Stalwart, then in Auckland commenced on a 6,000 mile goodwill tour which included Suva, the capital of Fiji, Tuvalu and Vila in Vanuatu. Assistance was provided in many places, damage from a recent cyclone left many needs which the Stalwart was able to assist with. Whilst on this tour a military coup occurred in Fiji. The Stalwart was diverted to Suva pending the possible evacuation of any Australians. Departure from Suva was on May 30th with the Stalwart headed for Sydney.

The rest of the year was spent in Australian waters.

An early visit to Hobart in the first week of January was part of the Tall Ships Race festivities, which were also a part of Australia's bi-centennial celebrations. The Stalwart returned to Sydney shadowing the Tall Ships fleet on their voyage to Sydney. A new program of training at sea saw the Stalwart accomplishing this off New Zealand during February & March and visited Nelson, Auckland & Wellington prior to returning to Sydney by March 11th.

Training exercises continued but were interrupted when civil unrest erupted in Vanuatu, the Stalwart was sent to the island in case evacuation of the Australian residents and tourists was needed. Vanuatu was reached on May 22nd, they stayed for about a week but the civil situation improved, the Stalwart returned to its training schedule.

The final training cruise took the Stalwart to Singapore, leaving Sydney in early July and reaching Singapore on August 11th by way of Brisbane, South Molle Island, Cairns, Darwin, Jakarta and Penang. The return from Singapore was via Cebu & Manus Island. The return to Sydney was in time to participate in the Bi-centennial Naval Salute from September 26th to October 4th, which again included the Stalwart being open to the public.

During 1988 a total of 32,840 nautical miles were sailed, the most in any one year to date for the ship.

Local activities started the year off for the Stalwart, including anchoring off Kangaroo Island, near Adelaide on February 21st in order to celebrate the ship's 21st anniversary. To this point (or thereabouts) the Stalwart had steamed 394,153.50 nautical miles and had logged 29,541.80 hours under way.

A training cruise took her to New Zealand waters visiting Marlborough Sound, Haraki Gulf, Wellington, Lyttleton and Auckland. Early in July the ship sailed for Tarawa lagoon, Republic of Kiribati in support of the South West Pacific forum. Whilst here the ship's bomb disposal team dealt with the disposal of two World War II vintage bombs in Tarawa Atoll. The Stalwart also provided a 21 gun salute on July 12th to mark the 10th anniversary of the Republic of Kiribatin.

After returning from Kiribati a further short cruise took the ship to Auckland and Dunedin. It was also about this time that the rumours circulating of the Stalwart's pay off were confirmed by the Fleet Commander. The Stalwart's final deployment began on October 9th, sailing from Sydney for South East Asia. Singapore was reached on October 23rd spending five days here before heading off to Ujung Pandang, then on to Cairns where the ship took part in the Remembrance Day activities.

Noumea, New Caledonia would be the last foreign port of call for Stalwart, visiting here November 17th - 20th. Stalwart's final arrival in Sydney took place on December 8th, proudly flying her paying-off pennant. During 1989 a total of 39,372 nautical miles was travelled.

Stalwart was officially decommissioned on March 9th 1990 whilst at Garden Island, Sydney.

On May 3rd 1990 a new chapter opened for the Stalwart when the vessel in fully operational condition was purchased for A$5.25 million by Sea Royal Ferries of Nicosia. The ship was renamed Her Majesty M for use mostly in the Mediterranean waters. Conversion to a cruise ship was hampered by financial difficulties encountered by the owners. The planned conversion at Perama did not take place and the ship was laid up there in 1992. The vessel was later renamed Tara II.

The ship was later sold to Lumen Mar, S.A., Panama.

During February 2003 the Tara II arrived at the shipbreakers at Alang, India for final scrapping.

Page added September 3rd 2007

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