By Brett Mitchell
MEETS NEW: HMAS Advance (above) meets HMAS Townsville and HMAS Armidale (below)
at the RANs Sea Power Conference in Sydney.
LSPH Bill Louys
to Sydneys Darling Harbour earlier this month witnessed what was undoubtedly
a unique meeting of the past, present and future generations of the RAN patrol
HMAS Armidale and HMAS Townsville, berthed alongside each
other to support the 2006 RAN Sea Power Conference, were joined by one of their
forebears, the museum ship HMAS Advance.
Advance was the third of 20 146-tonne
Attack class patrol boats commissioned by the RAN in late 1960s. Built by Walkers
Ltd in Maryborough, Queensland, Advance was launched on August 16, 1967, and commissioned
on January 24, 1968.
She was initially based in Darwin for coastal surveillance
operations and occasionally consorted HMAS Moresby during hydrographic surveys
off Western Australia.
Advance is perhaps most famous for her starring
role as HMAS Ambush in the first ABC series of Patrol Boat televised in 1979.
Highlights as a Darwin-based patrol boat included shadowing the Soviet
trawler Van Gogh, winning the 1970 Kelly Shield, and supporting Operation Trochus.
Advance was also present during Cyclone Tracy in December 1974, and although
she rode out the cyclone in Darwin Harbour, she sustained heavy damage to both
shafts and propellers.
Advance transferred to Sydney in November 1977 and
for the remainder of her career operated in the waters off the Australian east
coast between Queensland and Bass Strait. Advance is perhaps most famous for her
starring role as HMAS Ambush in the first ABC series of Patrol Boat televised
In February 1982 Advance was attached to the Sydney Port Division,
RANR, as a reserve training platform. She also participated in the 1986 Naval
Advance decommissioned on February 6, 1988 and transferred into
the custody of the Australian National Maritime Museum. The museum maintains Advance
in a fully operational state and the vessel can often be seen in Sydney.