Friday, April 15, 2011

Bow and Stern Miles Apart - HMAS Parramatta I

With the scuttling of HMAS Adelaide off North Avoca on Wednesday 13 April 2011, it is interesting to contemplate what happens to Navy ships when they have served their time.

Take the HMAS Parramatta I for example. This was the first ship (a torpedo boat destroyer and the last class of British warship designed with an outboard rudder) to be built for the Commonwealth Naval Forces which later became the Royal Australian Navy. She was commissioned on 1 September 1910. A After seeing service in the First World War in the Pacific, South-east Asia and then the Mediterranean, the Parramatta returned to Australia before being fully decommissioned on 20 April 1928.

The ship was then stripped of parts and sold, along with the HMAS Swan, to the NSW Penal Department and both were towed to Cowan Creek. Here the hulks were used as accommodation for prison labourers working on the roads along the Hawkesbury River. Later they were used to transport blue metal to Milson and Peat Islands.

On 2 Februaty 1934, the two ships were being towed down the Hawkesbury River for final breaking up in Sydney, when gale force winds struck. The Swan sank while the Parramatta ran aground in mangrove swamps opposite Milson Island and was abandoned.

In 1973, the bow and stern sections of HMAS Parramatta were salvaged by the Naval Historical Society of Australia and converted into memorials.

Today the stern stands proudly at Queens Wharf Reserve on the south bank of the Parramatta River at Parramatta (photo at left above), as a memorial to commemorate the service of all ships to bear the name Parramatta in the Royal Australian Navy.

The bow is situated at the Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney Harbour (photo at right above).

Fascinating to bring them "together" again!


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