The crew of HMAS Anzac (III) was giving a gift to other mariners on the 25th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning into the Navy.
Three days before the May 18 milestone, the ship’s company took on board 20 Indonesian fishermen who had been rescued in the Indian Ocean, and was partway through the voyage to return them to their home port of Bali on the anniversary.
The Indonesian fishermen were rescued by the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuseki Maru 15 and transferred to Anzac for accommodation and medical assistance, and the transit home.
Commanding Officer Anzac Commander Brendan Horn said the ship’s company was proud to spend her birthday helping fellow mariners.
“The events of the past few days add another chapter to Anzac’s long and proud history serving in the Royal Australian Navy,” Commander Horn said.
Commissioned on May 18, 1996, Anzac is the lead of eight Anzac-class frigates and had just completed a 10-week regional deployment through the north-east Indian Ocean and South-East Asia when the call for help came through from the Indonesian fishermen.
Quoting Anzac’s commissioning commanding officer, Commodore Les Pataky, Commander Horn said: “When we started in 1996, we were offered a vessel that was new, unknown, and with a very impressive combat system that outperformed the rest of the Navy."
“In the first six months, we turned that vessel into a warship, of which the Navy could be proud – the commissioning crew certainly was," he said.
Anzac Command Warrant Officer Raymond Beasy, who was posted to the ship as a petty officer when it was first commissioned in 1996, had the honour of cutting a celebratory cake.
He is on his fourth posting to Anzac, and said the ship had undergone many changes in its 25-year history.
“I’ve been there to witness all of the significant upgrades and I’ve been part of the ship from its first sailing through to the AMCAP (Anzac Mid-Life Capability Assurance Program) upgrade,” Warrant Officer Beasy said.
“With all of the upgrades, it has resulted in a massive improvement in capability, so while it might be the oldest major fleet unit, it is still one of the most capable.”
Flight Commander of the embarked Flight Six, Lieutenant Commander Timothy Craig, also has a strong connection to the ship.
His father, Captain Shane Craig, was an aviation warfare officer on the S-70B Seahawk Flight in the commissioning crew.
“Deploying in Anzac has been a rewarding experience,” Lieutenant Commander Craig said.
“I’ve particularly enjoyed following my dad’s footsteps by flying a newer version of the same helicopter he flew off the same ship, albeit one that’s also had a few upgrades since he was posted here 25 years ago as a sub lieutenant."
Commander Horn said as well as the cake-cutting ceremony, there would be a number of ongoing activities to highlight what Anzac has done in its 25 years of commissioned service.
“This is a special day for all who have served in HMAS Anzac as well as the many families and friends who have provided support along the way,” Commander Horn said.
“We thank our families for their support as we extend our time away from home in order to help our fellow mariners.
“The ship’s motto is ‘Standing United’ and after 25 years, we’re still standing united.”
The name Anzac recognises those who fought bravely during the Gallipoli campaign in World War I.
Anzac is the third Navy warship to bear the name and has battle honours from Korea 1951-53, Malaya 1956, East Timor 1999, the Persian Gulf 2001-03 and Iraq 2003.
Anzac has Freedom of Entry to the City of Albany, Western Australia, which is the departure port for the ANZACs of old, and also has a close association with the City of Rockingham.