Home' Navy News : September 26th 2013 Contents 7
September 26, 2013 www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS
LEUT Sarah West
AN AUSTRALIAN Transport Safety
Bureau report into the sinking of a
merchant ship at Christmas Island in
January 2012 has found that Navy
crews embarked in HMA Ships Leeuwin
and Maryborough displayed "profes-
sionalism and skill" while helping the
merchant sailors abandon their stricken
The report details how the general
cargo ship Tycoon made contact with the
rock face at Flying Fish Cove on January
6 after one of the permanent mooring
lines holding the ship in position came
free from its anchor in deteriorating
Attempts to move Tycoon away from
the rock face failed, and the ship contin-
ued to pound against it.
As a result, the next day, the engine
room began to flood through a tear in the
hull, and the decision was made by the
ship's master for all to abandon ship.
The report provides the following
timeline of events:
At 9.33am, the master of Tycoon told
the pilot and harbour master he wanted
to abandon the ship.
Following a suggestion by the
coxswain of Leeuwin's RHIB, it was
decided that the master should lower the
ship's starboard accommodation ladder
so the crew could climb down it and
jump into the sea. They would then be
pulled into the RHIB.
About 9.35am, CO Leeuwin con-
tacted Maryborough, which was also in
the area at the time, and requested that
her two RHIBs be launched to assist in
At 9.44am Maryborough's RHIBs
were launched and they arrived on scene
a short time later.
Tycoon's crew lowered the starboard
accommodation ladder and then gathered
together in lifejackets on the deck.
At 10.31am, the first crew member
climbed down the ladder and jumped
into the sea.
He was quickly pulled on board the
RHIB, which had come in close to the
About this time, CO Leeuwin esti-
mated that the wind was gusting "up to
40 knots, average sea height was 2m off-
shore with 3-plus metre surf zones close
inshore and on the exposed northwest
Within an hour all 15 Tycoon crew
members had been rescued by Leeuwin
and Maryborough's RHIB crews.
Later that day, Tycoon suffered the
catastrophic failure of its hull and over
the following months, it broke up under
the action of the waves.
The report concluded that "without
the presence of the Navy personnel and
their skill, the rescue of the 15 crew
members would have been much more
problematic and dangerous."
The full report is at: www.atsb.gov.au/publica-
LIKE the naturalist Charles Darwin, HMAS
Darwin has its own theory of evolution.
But Darwin's theory of evolution pertains
to her motto of 'resurgence' and preparation
for her milestone deployment to Operation
Slipper early next year.
Darwin's evolution commenced with
completion of a seven-month maintenance
period and the beginning of a challenging
work-up that will prepare her for her first Op
Slipper deployment since her FFG upgrade
Darwin's resurgence started in earnest
last month when she returned to sea, coinci-
dentally at the same time CO Darwin CMDR
Brian Schlegel handed over the weight of
command to CMDR Terry Morrison.
The handover enabled CMDR Schlegel to
take command of HMAS Melbourne for her
Op Slipper deployment, as rotation 56, and
for CMDR Morrison to take command of the
remainder of Darwin's force preparation.
CMDR Morrison said the ship's company
was proud of how hard it had worked to get
Darwin through an external docking mainte-
nance availability and back to sea.
"The ship's company is now working
toward other key milestones in her work-up
program including refining mariner skills,
unit readiness and mission readiness evalua-
tions," he said.
CMDR Morrison said his command phi-
losophy focus on war-fighting culture and
readiness would complement the ship's com-
pany's work ethic and professionalism.
"My command philosophy is to plan for
the next challenge, whether that be search
and rescue, or the use of force in conven-
tional conflict," he said.
"While on operational deployment the
focus will be to fight and win, while continu-
ing to prepare for the next fight."
Darwin will feature in the International
Fleet Review before tackling her work-up
milestones that will prepare her as Navy's
57th deployment to Op Slipper.
WEEO Darwin LCDR Dan Crocker said
after the IFR Darwin would move straight
into a shake-down period, which would give
the ship's company the opportunity to regain
mariner skills and sharpen collective warfare
"Darwin has had a fairly compressed
schedule for the qualification trial period
coming out of the maintenance availabil-
ity, so that period of time at sea will be very
important to ensure we are thoroughly pre-
pared for unit readiness and the mission
rehearsal evaluations," he said.
LCDR Crocker said Darwin was meet-
ing the challenge posed by a significant crew
change-out in 2013 through simulation train-
ing at HMAS Watson, where the command
team was undertaking surface warfare inte-
grated practical experience in the FFG ops
He said the ship's company was also pre-
paring to use the weapons technology train-
ing system at Sydney's Holsworthy Barracks
to do their Steyr, Minimi and 9mm pistol
In the past month Darwin has completed
sea qualification, proven her aviation capa-
bility with her embarked Seahawk flight
and almost completed IMAV-27, which is a
maintenance availability of about 350 tasks.
BACK AT SEA: HMAS Darwin pulls away from the wharf at Fleet Base East Sydney after a seven-
month maintenance period (above) and (inset) CMDR Terry Morrison takes the weight of command
from CMDR Brian Schlegel.
Photos: ABIS Chantell Bianchi and LS Russell Redman
Report praises crew
for rescue efforts
TO THE RESCUE:
A merchant sailor
jumps from the
sinking ship Tycoon
while a RHIB
retrieve him from
Photo courtesy of AFP
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