A plaque, which, for the first time officially recognises the service to the nation of all 12 of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) River-class frigates, and the crews who served in them in war and peace, will be unveiled tomorrow, 12 February in Sydney.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon said the plaque dedication ensured the RAN River-class frigates and their crews were recognised and honoured in our naval history.
“The River-class frigates are all named after Australian rivers, were built in Australia and were in service with the RAN from 1942-1979,” Mr Snowdon said.
“All but one of the River-class frigates were sold and scrapped after they were decommissioned, with HMAS Diamantina preserved as a museum ship at the Queensland Maritime Museum.”
Mr Snowdon said the Australian Government was pleased to be able to provide funding for the plaque through the Saluting Their Service commemorations grants program.
The Saluting Their Service commemorations grants program supports projects and activities which directly commemorate Australia’s servicemen and women who served in wars, conflicts and peace operations.
Lieutenant Vince Fazio (retired), President of the HMAS Condamine Association, served onboard HMAS Condamine, which saw action during the Korean War. He commissioned the plaque after receiving the Department of Veterans’ Affairs grant.
“I’m expecting about 70 guests at the ceremony. Veterans from the majority of the 12 River-class frigates including a couple of veterans from HMAS Hawkesbury, which saw action during World War II,” Lieutenant Fazio (retired) said.
“The President of Gascoyne together with the President of Culgoa will be invited to unveil the plaque, representing the first and last of class ships.
“It will be great to catch up with some old mates,” he said.
Commander Shane Moore CSM, Director of the RAN’s Naval Heritage Collection, said that an important part of Australia’s naval history had been preserved with the plaque dedication.
“Outside the Navy community, little is known about these frigates and the men who served on them. You could argue that historians have overlooked their fine service to the nation but, it is fitting that it has now been recognised through this plaque.”
The plaque unveiling and dedication service will be held at 11am, 12 February at the RAN Heritage Centre, Garden Island and will be followed by afternoon tea.
Media interested in attending the plaque dedication should contact Commander Shane Moore. Commander Moore and Lieutenant Vince Fazio will be available for interview.
For more information on the history of the RAN’s River class frigates go to: www.navy.gov.au/history
The RAN Heritage Centre is open from 9:30am to 3:30pm daily except on public holidays. Entry is free. To visit the centre, take the Watson’s Bay ferry from Circular Quay Wharf 4 to Garden Island Ferry Wharf. More information is available at http://www.navy.gov.au/Ranhc
Minister Snowdon’s office: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Director, RAN’s Naval Heritage Collection: Commander Shane Moore 0412 258 098
HMAS Condamine Association President: Lieutenant Vince Fazio (retd) 0431044510