After long service in the Royal Australian Navy, decommissioned vessel ex-HMAS Darwin will receive a new lease on life as a dive wreck in Tasmania.
Defence Minister Marise Payne said she was pleased that ex-HMAS Darwin would call Tasmania home after sailing over a million nautical miles during her 33 years of service.
Darwin farewelled her namesake warship during a final visit late last year.
“The Government is pleased that ex-HMAS Darwin will be used in Tasmania as a dive wreck, particularly given the significant tourism and economic benefits that will flow from the decision,” Minister Payne said.
“My Tasmanian Coalition Senate colleagues have played an important part in demonstrating the benefits of sending ex-HMAS Darwin to Tasmania one last time.
Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said the decision to gift ex-HMAS Darwin to Tasmania would give a much welcome boost to the local tourism sector, creating new jobs and bringing more visitors to the east coast.
“The creation of a dive wreck offers small businesses in Tasmania the opportunity to capitalise on national and international interest to dive in the magnificent Tasmanian waters,” Senator Martin said.
“This will bring additional tourists and spending to Tasmania, which will create and support local jobs, both directly and indirectly through the industries that support tourism in our state.”
Liberal Senator for Tasmania Jonathon Duniam said he had long championed a dive wreck on Tasmania’s east coast.
“The addition of a dive wreck will super charge our already booming tourism industry, attracting diving enthusiasts from all around the world, who will stay longer, and spend more in our local communities, particularly in the St Helens region,” Senator Duniam said.
The Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments will work together on funding arrangements for the vessel’s scuttling.
Ex-HMAS Darwin was commissioned in July 1984 and was a long-range escort frigate that undertook roles including area air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. In August 1990, HMAS Darwin became the first Australian ship to deploy to the Persian Gulf.
In 2014 she intercepted over 1,000 kilos of heroin and over 6,000 kilos of hashish off the east coast of Africa. In 2016 she intercepted heroin worth $800 million and a cache of weapons from a fishing vessel off the coast of Oman
Ex-HMAS Darwin was granted three Battle Honours: East Timor 1999, Persian Gulf 2002-03 and Iraq 2003. She was decommissioned in December 2017.