(II) - Part 4

HMAS Tobruk (II)
Modified Sir Bedivere Class
Faithful and Strong
Carrington Slipways Pty. Ltd.
Laid Down
7 February 1979
1 March 1980
Launched by
Lady Anna Cowen
23 April 1981
31 July 2015
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 5800 ton
Length 127 metres
Beam 18 metres
Speed 17 knots
Crew 150
Embarked Forces 520
Machinery 2 x 54 ton, 4,800bhp Mirrlees-Blackstone KDMR8 diesel engines
  • 6 x 12.7mm Machine Guns
  • 2 x Mini Typhoon Guns
Helicopters In support of Amphibious Operations (ranging from the Squirrel AS350-B to Chinook CH47)
Inherited Battle Honours KOREA 1951–53
Battle Honours EAST TIMOR 1999
HMAS Tobruk (II) ship badge

In August 2010 Tobruk participated in PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2010, an annual US-led humanitarian assistance mission providing medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and other community services to communities across South-East Asia. Tobruk provided logistic support in Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, and provided accommodation and acted as the Mission Commander’s Flagship and Afloat Forward Operating Base.

Upon completion of PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP, she immediately re-deployed to South East Asia from Darwin on 20 September in company with HMA Ships Success (II), Arunta (II) and Toowoomba (II) with a number of trainees embarked. She went on to visit Surabaya and Singapore before participating in Exercise BERSAMA PADU joining defence force units from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in Malaysian waters off Kuantan. She arrived back in Sydney, via Singapore and Townsville, on 15 November.

Seaman Writer Kim-Jade Martin from HMAS Tobruk meets a Papua New Guinean boy at a small coastal villiage in Rabaul during Pacific Partnership 2010.

At the front of the landing craft Private Heidenreich and Private Uldrikas from the Five Powers Rifle Company practice a dawn beach landing from HMAS Tobruk's landing craft at Tioman Island, Malaysia, during Excercise Bersama Padu 2010.

2011 proved to be a disappointing year for the ship and her crew as a series of maintenance issues saw her remained docked at Sydney for most of the year. Her first significant period at sea was not until November when she conducted shakedown and workup exercises before returning to operational capability. She departed Sydney on 13 January 2012 for northern Australian waters and arrived in Darwin on 21 January. She commenced Operation RESOLUTE taskings the following day. She departed Darwin for Sydney on 12 February conducting first of class flight trials for the MRH90 helicopter en route.

A MRH90 Taipan Multi Role Helicopter, conducts deck landing and recovery procedures on HMAS Tobruk.

She participated in Exercise CROIX DU SUD in New Caledonian waters in October before proceeding to New Zealand at the end of the month to participate in Exercise PAE TATA in November. She returned to Sydney on 25 November.

Tobruk was assigned to Operation RESOLUTE on 21 January 2013 and proceeded to Manus Island to embark equipment from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for transportation back to Australia. She arrived in Seeadler Harbour on 29 January and departed for Australia two days later. She returned to the South Pacific in June under the auspices of PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 13. She spent seven weeks in the waters around Papua New Guinea visiting Wewak and Vanimo with some 100 medical and engineering personnel embarked to provide medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and other community services. She arrived back in Australia on 15 July having participated in seven engineering projects, three medical clinics, three dental clinics, ten community relations activities, two health fairs, two biomedical teams and six veterinary clinics. 

Left: Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Operator Jordan Shephard nurses a baby at the Lujan Home for Girls in Vanimo. Right: Lieutenant Daniel Khayat with Sapper Wael Abou Hamad on the forecastle of HMAS Tobruk.

Tobruk's final commanding officer, Commander Leif Maxfield, RAN.

She participated in the International Fleet Review in Sydney Harbour in October 2013 commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the arrival of first RAN Fleet Unit in Sydney. The Fleet Review involved more than 50 RAN and international warships, tall ships and civilian vessels, and more than 50 military aircraft and 8000 sailors.

HMAS Tobruk played an integral role in the Pyrotechnics Display and Lightshow Spectacular as part of the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review (IFR) 2013.

She commenced tasking in support of Operation SOLANIA, the Australian Defence Force contribution to maritime surveillance within the Pacific Region, on 11 November, but two days later was instructed to return to Townsville in order to prepare for possible humanitarian assistance to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Hiayan. She departed Townsville for the Philippines on 18 November. She was officially assigned to Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST on 24 November and entered Leyte Gulf the following evening. She remained in Philippine waters until 9 December providing logistic support to relief efforts ashore, and providing shore teams to assist with clean-up and repairs. She arrived back in Sydney, via Townsville, on 21 December. Sailors who contributed to Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST were later awarded the Philippine Civic Action Medal. Tobruk’s crew members were personally presented with their medals by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Emmanuel Trinidad Bautista, in a ceremony conducted on board the ship on 28 May 2014. 

Top: Army vehicles disembarking from Tobruk via LCM8s, and, bottom: Amphibious vehicles both returning to Tobruk and landing during Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST.

Tobruk visited Hobart in February 2014 for Navy Week and to act as flagship for the Royal Hobart Regatta. The following month she assisted in trials for NUSHIP Canberra and later, on 13 March, exchanged courtesies in the form of dipped ensigns when Canberra arrived in Sydney for the first time.

Commanding Officer HMAS Tobruk, Commander Leif Maxfield, RAN, salutes the Honourable Peter Underwood, AC, as the Governor of Tasmania's barge passes HMAS Tobruk during the Royal Hobart Regatta.

Members of HMAS Tobruk's ships company lower the Australian White Ensign during the ceremony of sunset.

She commenced Operation RESOLUTE pre-deployment preparations in June, and on the 12th of that month, led a formation entry into Sydney Harbour including HMA Ships Parramatta (IV), Newcastle and Diamantina (II), for the Fleet Commander’s (Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN) Fleet Review on the occasion of Rear Admiral Barrett handing over ‘the weight’ to Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, RAN.

She conducted Operation RESOLUTE patrols in northern Australian waters from 6 to 30 July, and departed Darwin on 31 July bound for South East Asia, visiting Manila and Kota Kinabalu. She returned to Darwin on 19 August and rejoined Operation RESOLUTE, including logistic visits to Singapore in October and November. She completed her RESOLUTE commitments and returned to Darwin on 26 November, and arrived back home to Sydney on 6 December.

Tobruk commenced the New Year undergoing maintenance in Sydney and returned to sea for trials, work-up and exercises on 17 February 2015. On 13 March the ship was placed on standby for possible humanitarian and disaster relief operations as a large cyclone was expected to strike Vanuatu within hours. Tropical Cyclone Pam passed directly over Vanuatu the following day leaving some 75,000 people in need of emergency shelter and around 96% of the nation’s food crops destroyed. Tobruk departed Sydney on 16 March bound for Townsville where the majority of relief stores, equipment, vehicles, including an 808 Squadron MRH 90 Taipan helicopter, and personnel, including engineers and medics, were embarked. She departed Townsville on 18 March for Port Vila in support of Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 15.

HMAS Tobruk with an Australian Army Black Hawk helicopter during Operation Pacific Assist 2015.

HMAS Tobruk as seen from her embarked Australian Army Black Hawk helicopter during Operation Pacific Assist 2015.

Left: Commander Leif Maxfield, is welcomed to the Dillons Bay primary school. Right: Australian Defence Force personnel and community representatives from Dillon’s Bay Vanuatu, at a farewell ceremony during Operation Pacific Assist 2015.

Tobruk arrived in Port Vila on the morning of 23 March and immediately began disembarking humanitarian stores. The following morning she began bringing relief to the more remote areas of Vanuatu including Tanna Island, which reportedly suffered the worst damage inflicted by Pam. The entire relief effort was made difficult as poor navigational surveys (some charts of the area were more than 130 years old) and the volcanic nature of the islands limited the number of safe anchorages suitable for amphibious operations. Tobruk’s embarked Taipan helicopter proved to be invaluable conducting up to sixteen flights every day including reconnaissance, and transporting personnel and supplies. Crew members also formed working parties to assist aid operations ashore distributing relief stores, and repairing homes and community buildings. The ship also provided logistic support to United Nations relief teams which also included members of other humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross and Care International.

Left: Seaman Beau Parker recovers building materials for reuse at Dillon’s Bay, Vanuatu, during Operation Pacific Assist 2015. Right: Lieutenant Commander Mark Stone applies first aid to a local girl with a cut on her arm at the Dillon Bay settlement on the island of Erromango, Vanuatu, during Operation Pacific Assist 2015.

The ship’s company paused in their relief efforts on 2 April to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Nias Island Sea King Helicopter crash in which nine Australian Defence Force members lost their lives. Some members of Tobruk’s crew had previously served with those who had died in the accident.

Tobruk departed Port Vila on 11 April for return to Australia and arrived in Townsville, having being forced into a more northerly course to avoid Tropical Cyclone Solo, on 16 April. She arrived back in Sydney on 24 April.

Leading Seaman William-Gray Carroll explains the ships communications system onboard HMAS Tobruk during her last visit to Newcastle, NSW, prior to it's decommissioning.

Tobruk's final port visit was to Newcastle in June and she returned to to her home port of Sydney for the last time on 25 June. Her final voyage was recognised in Federal Parliament with both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader acknowledging her service to the nation, noting that she lived up to her motto of 'faithful and strong'.

The ship's company of HMAS Canberra line the flight deck as HMAS Tobruk sails past to arrive in her home port at Fleet Base East, Sydney, for the last time before decommissioning.


Tobruk's decommissiing crew assembled on the flight deck 2 June 2015.

HMAS Tobruk decommissioned on 31 July 2015 after more than three decades of dedicated service.

Tobruk being towed from Sydney on 7 December 2016 after being gifted to the Queensland Government. It is expected that she will be scuttled in the Wide Bay Region, halfway between Hervey Bay and Fraser Island (Photos courtesy of Ross Gillett).

Commanding Officers

23/4/1981 CMDR K.A. Doolan, RAN

30/6/1981 CAPT K.A. Doolan, RAN

22/12/1981 CMDR R.A.K. Walls, RAN

22/6/1983 CMDR G.A. Morton, RAN

12/10/1984 CMDR G.W. Scown, RAN

21/10/1986 CMDR M.G. Donaldson, RAN

21/4/1988 CMDR B.L. Adams, RAN

23/9/1989 CMDR G.C. Biscoe, RAN

31/5/1991 CMDR G.D. Kennedy, RAN

6/11/1992 CMDR K.B. Taylor, RAN

28/6/1994 CMDR J.W. Wells, RAN

29/3/1996 CMDR G.A. Robinson, RAN

3/1/1998 CMDR A.K. Du Toit, RAN

26/6/1999 CMDR V.M. Thompson, RAN

11/1/2001 CMDR B.C. Smyth, RAN

18/6/2002 CMDR P.G. Laver, RAN

24/11/2003 CMDR N.K. Bramwell, RAN

23/6/2005 CMDR M.J. Rothwell, RAN

31/1/2007 CMDR B.S. Wolski, RAN

30/7/2008 CMDR P.E. Thomson, RAN

19/1/2010 CMDR P.E. Scott, RAN

16/12/2011 CMDR T.J. Watson, RAN

7/6/2013 CMDR L.E. Maxfield, RAN


Further Reading