The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has bid farewell to one of its most distinguished vessels, the HMAS Anzac (III), celebrated for its prowess in air defense and undersea warfare. Fondly known as the “First Lady of the Fleet,” this frigate has concluded its remarkable 28-year tenure of unwavering service, as announced by Australia’s Ministry of Defence. The poignant decommissioning ceremony was held at its home base, HMAS Stirling, situated in Perth.

Throughout its illustrious service, the HMAS Anzac (III) embarked on numerous deployments and operations, notably including its deployment to the Persian Gulf in October 2002, a mission affectionately termed “Five Inch Friday.” This deployment marked a significant milestone, representing the Royal Australian Navy’s first combat support for naval weaponry since the Vietnam War.

The HMAS Anzac (III), a proud member of the Anzac class of frigates, derived its name from the historic Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). As the third vessel to bear this prestigious name, it was specifically designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities.

In terms of dimensions, the HMAS Anzac (III) boasts a length of 118 meters (387 feet), a beam of 14.8 meters (48.6 feet), and a draft of 4.35 meters (14.3 feet), rendering it a compact yet incredibly versatile vessel suitable for diverse missions.

With a standard displacement of approximately 3,600 tons and a full load displacement nearing 3,810 tons, the HMAS Anzac (III) possesses the capacity to accommodate various equipment and armaments while maintaining agility and speed.

Powered by a Combined Diesel or Gas (CODOG) propulsion system, featuring two MTU 12V 1163 TB83 diesel engines and one General Electric LM2500 gas turbine, the HMAS Anzac (III) can achieve speeds exceeding 27 knots (50 km/h) and boasts an impressive range of about 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at a cruising speed of 18 knots (33 km/h).

Equipped with state-of-the-art systems and components, including the 9LV 453 Mk3E combat management system, the CEAFAR phased-array radar, and the CEAMOUNT illuminator, the HMAS Anzac (III) enhances its detection and targeting capabilities for effective combat operations.

The frigate is equipped with a range of weaponry to fulfill its versatile roles. Its primary armament features a 5-inch (127 mm) Mark 45 Mod 2 naval gun, renowned for its effectiveness against both surface and airborne targets. Additionally, it boasts an 8-cell Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) capable of deploying Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), Harpoon anti-ship missiles, along with two triple torpedo tubes housing MU90 Impact torpedoes.

Comprising approximately 170 personnel, including officers and enlisted sailors, the ship’s crew undertakes a myriad of responsibilities spanning navigation, engineering, weapon operation, and maintenance. Key roles include the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, Weapons Engineer, Combat Systems Operator, alongside various technical and support personnel, all collaborating to ensure the ship’s operational readiness and effectiveness.

Reflecting on the farewell, Vice-Admiral Mark Hammond, the Chief of the Australian Navy, commended the dedication of the HMAS Anzac (III) crew in safeguarding Australia’s maritime interests throughout its service. “An Australian warship holds significance beyond its strategic role; it serves as a home, a haven for those at sea, and a representation of Australia worldwide. Since its commissioning in 1996, numerous individuals have called this vessel ‘home,’ marking significant milestones in their lives. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of them and their families for their steadfast support,” expressed Vice-Admiral Hammond.

The decommissioning of HMAS Anzac signals a new chapter, with investments directed towards the expansion and enhancement of the Navy’s fleet in alignment with the recommendations outlined in the Independent Review of the Navy’s Surface Combatant Fleet.