HMAS Huon sails into history

After a quarter-century of distinguished service, HMAS Huon has been decommissioned in a poignant ceremony at HMAS Waterhen, Sydney.

CAPTIONCurrent and former crew members of HMAS Huon gather for the ship’s decommissioning ceremony at HMAS Waterhen, NSW. Story by Lieutenant Madelyn Hanna. Photo by Leading Seaman David Cox.

Hailing from the Huon Valley after which the ship is named, Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Rodney Weeks said it was a privilege to represent a long line of men and women who served in the warship.

“The dedication and professionalism of these officers and sailors exhibited over 25 years of service has meant that every mission was successful, and every challenge surmountable,” he said.

Commissioned in May 1999, Huon, the first of six Huon-class minehunter coastal vessels, has been a critical asset to the Navy, renowned for its advanced mine warfare capabilities.

Shortly after commissioning, Huon embarked on its first fleet exercise, Crocodile 99, heralding the start of a diverse operational history.

The ship’s versatility was demonstrated throughout its participation in multinational activities such as Operation Tandem Thrust and Exercises Dugong, Ocean Protector, Mulgogger and Talisman Sabre.

“These operations underscored the ship’s expertise in mine countermeasures and general fleet support roles,” Lieutenant Commander Weeks said.

Huon’s service was not limited to military operations. In early 2004, the ship deployed at short notice on Operation Anode to the Solomon Islands, helping to restore law and order during a period of civil unrest.

In 2011, it played a vital role in Operation Queensland Flood Assist, surveying the waters around Brisbane following devastating floods.

“These humanitarian missions highlighted the ship’s agility and responsiveness in providing aid to those in need,” Lieutenant Commander Weeks said.

Throughout its tenure, Huon received several commendations, including the prestigious Gloucester Cup in 2014.

This accolade, awarded for excellence in operations, safety, seamanship, reliability and training, was a testament to the ship’s operational effectiveness and the crew’s unwavering dedication.

In its final years, Huon continued to support significant naval operations. Most notably, in recovery efforts following the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crash during Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2023.

This mission underscored the ship’s ongoing importance in both peacetime and operational scenarios.

Lieutenant Commander Weeks said as Huon is decommissioned, the warship leaves behind a legacy of bravery and excellence.

Huon’s contributions to naval operations, disaster relief and international exercises should not be forgotten and have cemented its place in the Royal Australian Navy’s history,” he said.

Huon’s decommissioning is aligned with the introduction of new innovations and capabilities which will be crucial to the protection and prosperity of the nation in the years to come.”

CAPTIONHMAS Huon enters Devonport, Tasmania in September 2023. Photo by Able Seaman Jamie Snaize.


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