Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin has secured the deal for ex-HMAS Darwin to be scuttled off the East Coast of Tasmania in what will be a major boost for tourism in the region.
Senator Martin said the scuttling of ex-HMAS Darwin would be the culmination of about four years of him fighting alongside the Break O’Day Council and Mayor Mick Tucker for a decommissioned navy ship to be used as a dive wreck off the coast of Tasmania resulting in millions of dollars being injected into the economy by attracting thousands of divers to the wreck each year.
The Senator said he would be lobbying the State Government to provide funding for ex-HMAS Darwin to be stripped at a Tasmanian port to create even more jobs and economic activity before the scuttling possibly at Skeleton Bay, near Binalong Bay.
“The campaign to get a decommissioned Royal Australian Navy ship scuttled off the coast of Tasmania started in 2015 when ex-HMAS Tobruk was first touted as a possible vessel to be used as a dive wreck to attract tourists from far and wide,” said Senator Martin as he made the announcement at Sydney’s Garden Island with the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne.
“We may have lost the battle for ex-HMAS Tobruk with Queensland acquiring it, but it is pleasing to know that Tasmania has won the war with the acquisition of ex-HMAS Darwin. It will be an honour for Tasmanians to call the State the final resting place for HMAS Darwin.
“It is expected that by the fourth year of its operations as a dive wreck that ex-HMAS Darwin will in that 12 months bring 7000 tourists to the East Coat of Tasmania and inject about $4 million into the local economy.
“Previous economic forecasts show that the scuttling ex-HMAS Darwin will have positive, long-term social, economic, recreational and health benefits for Tasmania and especially the East Coast that boasts pure white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and majestic coastal reserves.
“Tasmanians will take honour in recognising the service of the Adelaide Class frigate and all whom have sailed on ex-HMAS Darwin – about 5000 men and women – to serve our country with distinction for more than three decades.
“For 33 years, ex-HMAS Darwin served our nation with distinction highlighted by being awarded battle honours three times for successful maritime security operations. Ex-HMAS Darwin will continue to serve Tasmania for many more decades to come. Like the ex-HMAS Darwin’s motto of ‘Resurgent’, the icon of the navy will live on.
“Also fittingly and to add to the Tasmanian connection, ex-HMAS Darwin was decommissioned to make way for the Hobart class guided missile destroyers.”
Senator Martin said ex-HMAS Darwin was commissioned in 1984, had visited more than 50 countries, and had undertaken operations in East Timor, the Solomon Islands and in the Middle East.
“Tasmania will now be a worthy home and final resting place for the mighty ex-HMAS Darwin that will continue to serve the State with distinction for many decades to come,” Senator Martin said.
Minister Payne said she was pleased that ex-HMAS Darwin would call Tasmania home after sailing more than 1 million nautical miles during its 33 years of service.
“The Government is pleased to be able to offer ex-HMAS Darwin to the Tasmanian Government for use 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, led by Senator Steve Martin, have played an important part in demonstrating the benefits of sending ex-HMAS Darwin to Tasmania one last time.”
It is expected that ex-HMAS Darwin will be scuttled off the East Coast of Tasmania in 2019.