Farewell to the first of its class

Department of Defence

Ship’s company, VIPs and onlookers said farewell to the lead Armidale-class patrol boat, HMAS Armidale, as the 17-year-old vessel was decommissioned at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin on March 30.

Armidale, the first of its class and the latest to be decommissioned, has conducted a wide variety of operations alongside Australian Border Force, Australian Fisheries and the Australian Federal Police.

The vessel has sailed more than 571,000 nautical miles and visited a range of ports including Singapore, Solomon Islands and the Philippines.

In 2021, Armidale rapidly deployed to Solomon Islands to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force in managing civil unrest.

Armidale’s final task involved the apprehension and detainment of a foreign fishing vessel.

The final Commanding Officer of Armidale, Lieutenant Commander Adrian Hicks, said it had been a pleasure to take on the role.

“Being Commanding Officer of Armidale and working with the magnificent people who have served on board the ship these last two years has been the most rewarding time of my naval career,” Lieutenant Commander Hicks said.

“I will deeply miss the family we created and the pride we have for our ship. But, like all things, they must come to an end as we introduce new capability into the fleet.”

Patrol boats are the primary enablers of the ADF’s contribution to Operation Sovereign Borders and a key arm of Operation Resolute.

Navy is transitioning from the Armidale-class and Cape-class patrol boats to 12 Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels.

The new Arafura-class will provide a significant increase in capability over the patrol boats they will replace and will enhance Australia’s capacity to patrol its maritime territory and near region.

Armidale sailor Able Seaman Timothy Adams reflected on the bittersweet moment.

“I’ve learnt and achieved a lot on board Armidale and will miss the boat and the team a lot,” he said.

“But all things end and I’m looking forward to my next posting.”

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