The Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success has returned home to Sydney’s Fleet base East at Garden Island after its final operational cruise.
Success is affectionately known as the ‘Battle Tanker’ in recognition of operational tours to the Persian Gulf in 1991 and Timor L’este in 1999-2000, as well as the ‘First Lady of the Fleet’ as the oldest vessel in the RAN. She returned to Sydney on June 16 flying her white ‘paying off’ pennant from a four month deployment to Asia as an element of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 Joint Task Force 661, as well as other activities in the region.
“HMAS Success has been an indispensable part of Navy operations since she was launched in 1984, and she has worked tirelessly to support our maritime operations,” Commander Australian Fleet, RADM Jonathan Mead said in a statement. “HMAS Success has quietly operated behind the scenes to help our frontline assets achieve mission success. Simply put, Success kept other ships at sea longer, thereby increasing maritime security for Australia and our allies.”
An 18,000 tonne auxiliary oiler, HMAS Success’ design was based on the French Durance class, and it was the last vessel to be built at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island. It was laid down in August 1980, launched on 3 March 1984, and commissioned on 23 April 1986. The vessel had a typical complement of 220, and could embark a single helicopter.
Success has had a number of upgrades through its service life, the biggest of which was the double hull conversion to comply with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations. This involved a six month period in Singapore from late-2010 to mid-2011 to complete the conversion, followed by a further 12 months alongside in Sydney to repair defects from the conversion, and a prolonged workup period into late 2012.
During her 33 years of service, Success sailed more than 1 million nautical miles, has conducted more than 3,500 replenishments of RAN and allied vessels, participated in 11 RIMPAC exercises, and participated in the search for MH370 in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia.
“For other ships, Success has always been a welcome symbol of help and support; not just for the supplies she carries, but equally importantly for the mail and other packages she delivers from loved ones back home,” the current and final commanding officer of HMAS Success, CAPT Darren Grogan said. “Success will be missed. She has been such an integral part of Navy over the past 33 years that most of our people today will not know the fleet without her.”
HMAS Success will be decommissioned in Sydney on June 29. No decision has been made about her fate after her decommissioning, but her replacement – a Cantabria class AOR currently under construction by Navantia in Spain – is not due to be delivered until the end of 2019, and will not likely enter service until mid-next year.