HMAS Anzac (III) Decommissioning Address

18 May 2024


Good afternoon Minister King, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and most importantly the crew of HMAS Anzac.

It is indeed a pleasure to be here for this milestone event. I would like to acknowledge HMAS Anzac’s crew, those who previously served as members of ship’s company, and their families who supported their service. I acknowledge those members of Anzac’s decommissioning crew who are unable to join us today; many of them are at sea. I would also like to acknowledge the 1,740 Australian sailors and Officers who are at sea in service on the nation at this time.


Today, the 18 May 2024, we are gathered here to farewell the First Lady of the Fleet, Anzac Class Frigate, HMAS Anzac (III). Today is both a day of sadness and a day of pride. Today marks the 28th anniversary of Anzac’s commissioning in 1996. During her distinguished career, she has steamed more than 784,000 nautical miles and spent more than 64,000 hours underway. I relayed these statistics to the Head of TKMS, the German shipbuilder, whose design precedes HMAS Anzac. Suffice to say, he was stunned by the amount of mileage we put in these ships across the Indo Pacific.

This is not just an Australian warship. This ship has been a sanctuary for so many Australians who served in peace and war, for our allies and partners, and at times, for mariners in distress at sea. It is also a floating embassy, welcomed in the ports across the Indo Pacific as an expression of Australian Government intent and priorities, wherever her course and deployment schedule has taken her. It is indeed appropriate to recognise that every sailor on parade, every Officer in uniform is indeed a diplomat in service of our nation. It is very difficult to say goodbye to such a tremendous team.

3,813 of our Navy people called this ship their own. As they walked her humble decks, Anzac was their home away from home. While only a few, relatively speaking, have borne her name, they have all served with distinction. She is a ship built by Australians, in Australia, for Australia and crewed by Australians. She has been operated and sustained by Australia for 28 years, although of course a few Kiwis have been involved along the way. I would like to acknowledge the New Zealanders who have joined us here today.

Anzac has achieved much in her service to the nation. Her missions have spanned from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. From the Southern Ocean to the Yellow Sea, most of the waters in between and of course, in conflict in the Persian Gulf.

Anzac’s service to the nation was varied and valorous. From contributing to peacekeeping, counterterrorism, combat, environmental or ceremonial missions, she steamed faithfully under the Australian White Ensign, which flies proudly on her stern. A symbol of national power and of national pride, she bears a sacred name known to all Australians. Some of the highlights of her service include:

In 1999, she contributed to INTERFET, the Australian-led peacekeeping force to East Timor.

In 2000, she answered a mayday distress call, here off the coast of Fremantle, launching her ship’s boat in six metre swells and 40 knot winds, enabling a medical team to render first aid to a critically injured mariner.

She deployed to the Persian Gulf three times, including deploying with HM ships Marlborough, Chatham and Richmond in 2003, contributing to the Battle of Al-Faw as part of Operation FALCONER. During this mission, Anzac provided naval gunfire support assisting the Royal Marines to secure oil terminals on the Al-Faw Peninsula before Iraqi forces could destroy them.

Anzac was called upon to target Iraqi command, bunker, and artillery positions. This was the first time since the Vietnam War that an Australian warship had provided naval gunfire support and fired guns in anger. The salvos from her 5-inch guns were accurate and highly effective, resulting in the withdrawal or surrender of Iraqi forces.

Anzac also contributed to important environmental missions, including deploying to the Southern Ocean to target illegal fishing around Heard and McDonald Islands within the Australian Fisheries Zone.

Anzac twice participated in commemorative activities on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey for the ninetieth and the one hundredth anniversaries of the Anzac landings. On both occasions, Anzac was positioned in Anzac Cove for the dawn service, providing a fitting backdrop to a service that commemorates the spirit and sacrifice that led to her name.

In 2012, Anzac was deployed to the Arabian Sea under Operation SLIPPER as part of the International Coalition Against Terrorism.

Anzac’s storied history is testament to the professionalism and dedication of all who have had the honour to serve in this honourable ship. Today is an opportunity for them and their families to say a final goodbye.

It is pleasing to see so many family members here today. Remember that Anzac and her crews could not have achieved anything without the support of their families and their loved ones at home. It is indeed a fact, that our power at sea is derived from your strength, your resilience and your support and love for your sailors and Officers. I thank you for your service.

Today, we pay final tribute to HMAS Anzac, all 118 metres and 3,600 tonnes of her. We also pay tribute to members of Anzac’s ships company past and present and their families who sacrificed time away from their loved ones while Anzac steamed far from home. In service of our navy and our nation.

Bravo Zulu HMAS Anzac – your watch is almost over. United we stand.