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Past meets future

By Brett Mitchell

YUM YUM: The chefs onboard HMAS Parramatta with their winning deluxe hamburger.
OLD MEETS NEW: HMAS Advance (above) meets HMAS Townsville and HMAS Armidale (below) at the RAN’s Sea Power Conference in Sydney.
Photo: LSPH Bill Louys

Visitors to Sydney’s Darling Harbour earlier this month witnessed what was undoubtedly a unique meeting of the past, present and future generations of the RAN patrol boat force.

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 1979.

In February 1982 Advance was attached to the Sydney Port Division, RANR, as a reserve training platform. She also participated in the 1986 Naval Review.

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.




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