HMAS Darwin (FFG 04)

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HMAS Darwin F-04.jpg
HMAS Darwin
Career (Australia)
Namesake: City of Darwin
Builder: Todd Pacific Shipyards, Seattle, Washington
Laid down: 3 July 1981
Launched: 26 March 1982
Commissioned: 21 July 1984
Motto: "Resurgent"
Nickname: FFG-44 (US hull designation during construction)
Honours and
Battle honours:
East Timor 1999
Persian Gulf 2002-03
Iraq 2003
Status: Active as of 2015
Badge: Ship's badge
General characteristics
Class and type: Adelaide-class guided missile frigate
Displacement: 4,100 tons
Length: 138.1 m (453 ft) overall
Beam: 13.7 m (45 ft)
Draught: 7.5 m (25 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 41,000 horsepower (31,000 kW), 1 shaft
2 x 650-horsepower (480 kW) auxiliary propulsors
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 184 (including 15 officers, not including aircrew)
Sensors and
processing systems:
AN/SPS-49 air search radar
AN/SPS-55 surface search and navigation radar
SPG-60 fire control radar (Mark 92 fire control system)
AN/SQS-56 hull-mounted sonar
Armament: 1 × Mark 13 Missile Launcher for Harpoon and Standard missiles
1 × 8-cell Mark 41 VLS with Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles
2 × Mark 32 torpedo tubes
1 × OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun
1 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS
Up to 6 x 12.7-millimetre (0.50 in) machine guns
2 x M2HB .50 calibre Mini Typhoons (fitted as required)
Aircraft carried: 2 helicopters

HMAS Darwin (FFG 04), named for the capital city of the Northern Territory, is an Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). One of four ships ordered from the United States, Darwin entered service in 1984. During her career, she has operated in the Persian Gulf, as part of the INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce, and off the Solomon Islands. The frigate underwent a major upgrade during 2007 and 2008, and is actively serving as of 2015.

Design and construction[edit]

Following the cancellation of the Australian light destroyer project in 1973, the British Type 42 destroyer and the American Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate were identified as alternatives to replace the cancelled light destroyers and the Daring-class destroyers.[1] Although the Oliver Hazard Perry class was still at the design stage, the difficulty of fitting the Type 42 with the SM-1 missile, and the success of the Perth-class acquisition (a derivative of the American Charles F. Adams-class destroyer) compared to equivalent British designs led the Australian government to approve the purchase of two US-built Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates in 1976.[1][2] A third was ordered in 1977, followed by a fourth (Darwin), with all four ships integrated into the USN's shipbuilding program.[3][4][5] A further two ships were ordered in 1980, and were constructed in Australia.[4][5]

As designed, the ship had a full load displacement of 4,100 tons, a length overall of 138.1 metres (453 ft), a beam of 13.7 metres (45 ft), and a draught of 24.5 metres (80 ft).[6][7] Propulsion machinery consists of two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, which provide a combined 41,000 horsepower (31,000 kW) to the single propeller shaft.[7] Top speed is 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph), with a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph).[7] Two 650-horsepower (480 kW) electric auxiliary propulsors are used for close manoeuvring, with a top speed of 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph).[7] Standard ship's company is 184, including 15 officers, but excluding the flight crew for the embarked helicopters.[7]

Darwin test-firing a RIM-24 Tartar missile (not part of the ship's regular armament) from her Mark 13 missile launcher during RIMPAC 86

Original armament for the ship consisted of a Mark 13 missile launcher configured to fire RIM-66 Standard and RGM-84 Harpoon missiles, supplemented by an OTO Melara 76-millimetre (3.0 in) gun and a Vulcan Phalanx point-defence system.[6][7] As part of the mid-2000s FFG Upgrade Project, an eight-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System was fitted, with a payload of RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.[8] For anti-submarine warfare, two Mark 32 torpedo tube sets are fitted; originally firing the Mark 44 torpedo, the Adelaides later carried the Mark 46, then the MU90 Impact following the FFG Upgrade.[7][9] Up to six 12.7-millimetre (0.50 in) machine guns can be carried for close-in defence, and since 2005, two M2HB .50 calibre machine guns in Mini Typhoon mounts have been installed when needed for Persian Gulf deployments.[7][10] The sensor suite includes an AN/SPS-49 air search radar, AN/SPS-55 surface search and navigation radar, SPG-60 fire control radar connected to a Mark 92 fire control system, and an AN/SQS-56 hull-mounted sonar.[7] Two helicopters can be embarked: either two S-70B Seahawk or one Seahawk and one AS350B Squirrel.[7]

The ship was laid down by Todd Pacific Shipyards at Seattle, Washington on 3 July 1981, to the Perry class Flight III design.[5][11] The Adelaides were built as part of the United States Navy's construction program, so were assigned USN hull numbers; Darwin was FFG-44.[5] She was launched on 26 March 1982, and commissioned into the RAN on 21 July 1984.[11]

Operational history[edit]

During her career, Darwin has been deployed to the Persian Gulf on five occasions: during 1990, 1991, 1992, 2002, and 2004.[11]

Darwin was deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce from 19 September to 3 November 1999.[12]

The ship was deployed to the Solomon Islands in 2001.[11]

Darwin underwent a major upgrade and refit at Garden Island during 2007 and 2008; returning to service prior to November 2008.[13]

On the morning of 13 March 2009, Darwin was one of seventeen warships involved in a ceremonial fleet entry and fleet review in Sydney Harbour, the largest collection of RAN ships since the Australian Bicentenary in 1988.[14] The frigate did not participate in the fleet entry, but was anchored in the harbour for the review.

Following an overhaul of the RAN battle honours system, Darwin was granted three battle honours in 2010: "East Timor 1999", "Persian Gulf 2003-03", and "Iraq 2003".[15][16]

In October 2013 Darwin participated in the International Fleet Review 2013.[17]


  1. ^ a b Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 220
  2. ^ Frame, Pacific Partners, pp. 102, 162
  3. ^ Frame, Pacific Partners, p. 162
  4. ^ a b MacDougall, Australians at war, p. 345
  5. ^ a b c d Hooton, Perking-up the Perry class
  6. ^ a b Moore (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78 , p. 25
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sharpe (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1998-99, p. 26
  8. ^ Australia's Hazard(ous) Frigate Upgrade, in Defense Industry Daily
  9. ^ Fish & Grevatt, Australia's HMAS Toowoomba test fires MU90 torpedo
  10. ^ Scott, Enhanced small-calibre systems offer shipborne stopping power
  11. ^ a b c d "HMAS Darwin". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  12. ^ Stevens, David (2007). Strength Through Diversity: The combined naval role in Operation Stabilise (PDF). Working Papers 20. Canberra: Sea Power Centre - Australia. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-642-29676-4. ISSN 1834-7231. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  13. ^ McPhedran, Ian (19 November 2008). "Australia's naval frigates 'worth the wait'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  14. ^ Brooke, Michael (2 April 2009). "Marching into History". Navy News (Department of Defence). 
  15. ^ "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours" (PDF). Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  17. ^ Commonwealth of Australia (2013). "Participating Warships: International Fleet Review, Sydney, Australia, 3–11 October 2013". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 


Journal articles
  • Fish, Tim; Grevatt, Jon (24 June 2008). "Australia's HMAS Toowoomba test fires MU90 torpedo". Jane's Navy International (Jane's Information Group). 
  • Hooton, E.R. (1 December 1996). "Perking-up the Perry class". Jane's International Defence Review (Jane's Information Group) 9 (9). 
  • Scott, Richard (12 December 2007). "Enhanced small-calibre systems offer shipborne stopping power". International Defence Review (Jane's Information Group). 

External links[edit]