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THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Beginning a series on the glory days of the RAN in the not-so-distant past - Photo RAN Archives.
4077. In this photo we have some of the ships that went to Darwin after Cyclone Tracy all but destroyed the Northern Territory capital on Christmas Day, 1974. The ships performed a vital role in sustaining life in the devastated city until services ashore were gradually restored.
From right, in the first row here are three of the ships that went to Darwin, the escort maintenance ship HMAS STALWART [II], tanker HMAS SUPPLY, and HMAS MELBOURNE [II] . At rear are HMAS PERTH, HMAS BRISBANE and HMAS YARRA.
In Operation NAVY HELP DARWIN, the flagship HMAS MELBOURNE stood by the stricken city from January 1 to January 18.
The other RAN ships that went to Operation NAVY HELP DARWIN in 1974 included HMAS HOBART [II] HMAS BRISBANE [II], HMAS VENDETTA, HMAS STUART [II] HMAS FLINDERS, HMAS BALIKPAPAN, HMAS BETANO , HMAS WEWAK and HMAS BRUNEI. A total of 13 RAN ships and 11 Navy aircraft were involved in the largest emergency response in the Navy's history. Despite it being Christmas, some 3000 Navy personnel were mobilized. In work ashore, Navy personnel cleared 1593 residential blocks as well as schools and other buildings.
The role of the 15,500 ton Escort Maintenance Ship, HMAS STALWART [II], with her workshops, hospital, telephone exchange, scores of skilled tradesmen and engineers and two Wessex helicopters, was particularly significant. STALWART set sail for Darwin on December 27 after 36 hours loading supplies and building materials, which were further prepared en route.
The EMS spent `12 days on passage to and from Darwin, and 29 days alongside the stricken city working an estimated average 1000 manhours per day. Personnel from the Navy bases and patrol boats in the Darwin area also rendered massive assistance in the first hours after the storm.
At the end of Operation NAVY HELP DARWIN the city's Mayor Harry 'Tiger' Brennan signalled: 'I will not forget you. We owe the Navy the greatest debt of all.'
They were THE GOOD OLD DAYS. In February 2011, while controversy and political recriminations resulted from all three of the Navy's heavy lift vessels, HMAS KANIMBLA [II], MANOORA [II] and HMAS TOBRUK [II] being unavailable for service, a great deal of unsung work was again done by Navy ships and crews after Cyclone Yasi hit the Queensland coast. Two Landing Craft Heavy vessels brought heavy earth moving equipment ashore where needed along the coast and helicopters engaged in search and rescue, supply, and assistance generally. Additionally, after the flooding of Brisbane in preceding weeks, two HUON Class mine warfare vessels had surveyed the bottom of the Brisbane River, locating more than 100 dangerous objects.
Photo: RAN Historical Section, Heritage Collection ID. No. 00159.
Brisbane River Fire - Fire works 2
Brisbane, River Fire, Captian Cook Bridge, Kangaroo point, fire works
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