- Gillett, Ross
- Ship design and development, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Derwent, HMAS Stuart II, HMAS Parramatta III, HMAS Swan III, HMAS Torrens II, HMAS Yarra III
- December 2007 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
End of an era
An era in the RAN finally ended on 11 September 1998, when the White Ensign was lowered on the last River class destroyer escort Torrens. The ship was decommissioned only 17 days short of the 30th anniversary of the ship’s launching by Dame Zara Holt at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney on 28 September 1968.
Highlights of the career of Torrens included escort duties to Vung Tau in support of Australian Forces in Vietnam in 1972. In 1974 and 1981 she joined the Royal Yacht Britannia and in 1981 won the coveted Duke of Gloucester Cup. In 1996, Torrens was the last Royal Australian Navy ship to visit Hong Kong before its handover by the British Government.
For her last operational deployment before paying off, Torrens visited Surabaya, Manila, San Fernando, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sandakan, Ambon and Port Moresby. Enroute to Stirling, she also paid farewell visits to Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Devonport and Adelaide, where she exercised her right to the Freedom of Entry for the last time.
With the badges of the six ships of the class, Parramatta, Yarra, Stuart, Derwent, Swan and Torrens adorning the ship’s brow, the last CO, CMDR Vic Jones described the decommissioning as the ‘closing of a chapter in the history of the Royal Australian Navy’.