HMAS Cairns farewells HMA Ships Paluma and Mermaid

After 32 years of service the Royal Australian Navy’s oldest ships, HMA Ships, Paluma, and Mermaid sailed into HMAS Cairns for the final time last week.

The Class Survey Motor Launches were later farewelled at a decommissioning ceremony. The older of the two, HMAS Paluma held the title of ‘First Lady of the Fleet’ during the ceremony this title was passed on to  HMAS Shepparton.

For more than 30 years, the survey motor launches collected hydrographic data necessary for creating products used by military, commercial, and private vessels to safely navigate the waters around Australia.  Over the years the ships have also moved into operational support roles, which included deploying to Bougainville Island in February 2000 in support of the peace monitoring group conducting Operation BEL ISI II ashore and also in November 2000 deploying to East Timor in support of the United Nations transitional administration to East Timor operations.

More recently, the ships supported Operation Resolute, which Lieutenant Commander Voysey said showed the breadth and adaptability of the platform and crews.

Their decommissioning is part of the staged introduction which will see up to eight specialist vessels utilising robotic, autonomous, and artificial intelligence systems, commissioned.

Commanding Officer Paluma Lieutenant Commander Craig Hamilton said the title handover and ceremony were fitting and memorable moments to recognise the important legacies the ships leave behind.

HMAS Paluma (IV) was the first ship of the Paluma Class (SML) and the fourth to bear the name Paluma. HMAS Paluma is a custom-built survey vessel, designed for surveying in the shallow coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef and Northern Australia. She was built by Eglo Engineering of Adelaide in November 1987 and Commissioned on 27 February 1989. Her catamaran design provides good stability in rough weather and allowed her to sit well out of the water, drawing only 2.2 metres a favourable characteristic in shoaling and reef waters where the ships are required to operate.

She has three sister ships: HMAS MermaidShepparton (II), and Benalla (II) and operates in a pair with her sister ship HMAS Mermaid. This teaming of the two ships provide mutual support allowing them to operate safely in the remote areas they are required to survey.

HMAS Mermaid was commissioned on 4 December 1989 and was designed for hydrographic survey operations in the shallow waters of northern Australia. Their twin hulls provide good stability in heavy conditions and a good living area and space below the main deck. HMAS Mermaid catamaran design was very much the same as HMAS Paluma her sister ship.

“Since Mermaid’s first hydrographic operation at Bee Reef on February 26, 1990, the ship has steamed nearly 420,000 nautical miles and conducted innumerable surveys,” Lieutenant Commander Voysey said.

HMAS Paluma (IV) and her sister ship HMAS Mermaid decommissioned on Saturday, 18 September 2021.




Submit a Comment