Thirty-three years ago, a junior Royal Australian Navy sailor joined a new ship, HMAS Success, and today he is on that ship’s final voyage.

The First Lady of the Fleet, Success was commissioned in Sydney on April 23, 1986. She was the largest ship built entirely in Australia for the Navy and the biggest built in the port of Sydney.

“When required, Success has always been there; it will be a sad but proud day when she decommissions."

Warrant Officer Werner Stach, then a leading seaman, was a part of Success’ first crew and a member of the commissioning guard.

Werner Stach stands as a Leading Seaman on the flight deck of Success in 1988. Photo: supplied

“From all reports I was the only one in step,” Warrant Officer Stach said.

“I feel incredibly privileged to have been given such a great opportunity to serve at the beginning and end of Success’ working life.

“I don’t think there are many sailors in the Navy who have had the good fortune to serve like this.”

Success will remain deep in my heart with the fondest of memories.”

Among the many memories from his first five-year posting was a six-hour refuelling of ex-battleship USS Missouri during Exercise Rim of the Pacific 1988.

He also witnessed the crash on Success’ deck of a Wessex helicopter, fortunately with no loss of life.

But, the fondest memories are of the friends he has made.

“I made many good friends on this ship in those early days – the camaraderie on board Success was great,” Warrant Officer Stach said.

Now he has come full circle to find himself once again posted to the ‘battle tanker’, this time as the senior marine technician on her final deployment, Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19).

The ship's company on Success gather on the flight deck to celebrate the ship’s 33rd birthday during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019. Photo: Lieutenant Daniel Khayat

Success is part of the Joint Task Force, which includes HMA Ships Canberra and Newcastle, for IPE19, designed to promote security and stability in the region.

On her return to Fleet Base East in June, Success will decommission after 33 years of outstanding service, bringing to an end one of the great chapters in recent Navy history.

“When required, Success has always been there; it will be a sad but proud day when she decommissions,” Warrant Officer Stach said.

Success will remain deep in my heart with the fondest of memories.”