- Part 2

HMAS Adroit
Attack Class Patrol Boat
Patrol Boat
International Callsign
Quick and Sure
Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane
17 August 1968
28 March 1992
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 149 tonnes
Length 32.6 metres
Beam 6.1 metres
Draught 2.2 metres
Speed 20 knots
Crew 3 officers and 16 sailors
Machinery 2 x 16 cylinder turbo-charged diesels
  • 1x 40mm Bofors gun
  • 2x machine guns
HMAS Adroit



The new decade saw Adroit and her sister Attack Class Patrol Boats quickly resume the well-worn pattern of patrol work in the top end. Calls were made at Port Essington early in January before joining up with HMAS Aware for a work up period and Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE) overseen by the Commander of Patrol Boat Forces, Commander ET Keane RAN. Upon completion fishery patrol work resumed until Tropical Cyclone Brian forced the return of the ship to Darwin. Adroit had been tasked to sail to Ujung Pandang in Sulawesi but this visit was cancelled due to heavy seas causing flooding and spoiling provisions. The ship consequently remained in Darwin for a two week maintenance period.

Mid-February saw Adroit back at sea with HMAS Aware until engine troubles again forced an early return to Darwin. Repairs were made and on 20 February Adroit shaped a course for Rockingham calling at Monte Bello Island en route where repairs were made to radiation warning signs. The ship then enjoyed a two day layover in Geraldton before resuming course for Rockingham.

The beginning of March saw Adroit berthed at HMAS Stirling before patrolling waters around Esperance and Albany. The ship was opened for public inspection during a port visit to Esperance before returning to sea to monitor a Japanese Squid Fleet operating in the area. Rough seas forced Adroit to return to HMAS Stirling on 12 March for a self-maintenance period. On 21 March Adroit sailed for Darwin calling at Dampier for fuel along the way. The ship remained alongside in Darwin until 14 April when she resumed fishery patrols of the Beagle Gulf before returning to Darwin for Anzac Day.

In May 1980 Adroit was visited by the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral GJ Willis AO, RAN. This was followed by participation in Exercise SWAMP IBIS during which Adroit managed to successfully conceal herself using camouflage until aerial photographs revealed her disguise. Adroit was then used as a simulated target ship for attacks by F-111 and Mirage Aircraft. Adroit responded by firing blank 40/60 break-up shot.

The following month saw Adroit board two Taiwanese fishing vessels and conduct further patrols to the Beagle Gulf and the Buccaneer Archipelago. Visits to Broome and Port Hedland for fuel and supplies followed before returning to Darwin for a self-maintenance period. Engine trouble saw a further patrol to the Beagle Gulf curtailed and a premature return to Darwin.

On 20 July 1980 Adroit hosted a reception for NOCNA, Captain R McKenzie, ADC, RAN, and nine guests including Rear Admiral Shapiro, USN; and Miss Australia 1980, Miss Eleanor Moreton. The guests were treated to a two hour sightseeing voyage around Darwin Harbour before returning alongside. Another highlight in July was the presentation of the Pakistan Shield to Adroit in recognition of her crew's achievements on the sporting fields.

Routine fishery patrols continued throughout the remainder of July with several Indonesian vessels being boarded and receiving warnings. During this patrol Adroit grounded on Wildcat Reef and had to be towed back into Darwin by HMAS Ardent for inspection and repairs.

HMAS Adroit had a grandstand view of the launching of the first Australian-built patrol boat of the Fremantle Class, HMAS Warrnambool (204), at Cairns, in North Queensland, on 25 October 1980.
HMAS Adroit had a grandstand view of the launching of the first Australian-built patrol boat of the Fremantle Class, HMAS Warrnambool (204), at Cairns, in North Queensland, on 25 October 1980.

Intermediate repairs to the damaged patrol boat took place on the slipway in Darwin early in August before shaping a course for Cairns via the Wessell Islands. The ship arrived at Cairns and was slipped on 19 August for a refit which lasted until 17 October at which time Lieutenant CJ Ellis, RAN assumed command. Adroit conducted post refit trials until 1 November incorporating a successful families day at sea into the program and visits to Hayman Island, Townsville, Dunk Island and Fitzroy Island where she anchored in company with HMAS Barbette. A niggling port engine defect saw the ship return to Cairns necessitating the port engine to be replaced.

December saw post engine replacement trials and a compass swing take place before returning to Cairns for a gearbox overhaul. The ship finally left Cairns for Darwin via Thursday Island arriving on 19 December for Christmas leave.



The new year began for Adroit on 6 January when she sailed in company with HMAS Ardent and Aware to conduct seamanship evolutions and exercises at sea. During one of these drills Adroit's bow struck Ardent's starboard side amidships making a small hole on the waterline. Adroit returned to Darwin and on 20 January was slipped to investigate damage.

By the middle of February Adroit was back in the water to complete programmed work ups in company with Aware. Her run of bad luck seemed to continue, however, when later in the month when undertaking a tow a rope fouled the starboard propeller. This was subsequently cleared and the end of the month saw the ship undertaking an annual inspection followed by divisions.

Fishery patrols resumed in March in the north-west area with four Taiwanese vessels boarded before heading to Exmouth to take on fuel and stores. A further five boardings of Taiwanese fishing vessels were undertaken before Adroit was joined by a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald who joined to witness the routine work of the patrol boats engaged in fishery patrols.

April saw Adroit in the Browse Island, Ashmore Reef area where she located another Vietnamese refugee boat to the south-west of Bathurst Island. This boat was escorted to Darwin and handed over to the relevant authorities for processing. Adroit then returned to fishery patrol work in the Bathurst Island area before embarking two veterans of the World War II Australian Army 'Gull Force'. These former soldiers were then transported to Ambon where Adroit stayed alongside at Halong Naval Base. There, members of the ship's company participated in Anzac Day activities and a sports day, with the ship also open to visitors before making the voyage back to Darwin.

In May 1981 Adroit embarked the Judge Advocate for the RAN, Rear Admiral Mr Justice HH Glass RANR and NOCNA for a cruise of Darwin Harbour and an inspection of patrol boat facilities. Fishery patrols resumed on 8 May and the month concluded Adroit leading Aware, Acute and Ardent to sea to participate in a night encounter exercise before returning to Darwin.

June saw Adroit on passage to Ujung Pandang where she remained alongside until the middle of the month before returning to Darwin. Fishery patrols were quickly resumed and it was during this patrol that the ship achieved 200,000 nautical miles since commissioning.

The following month saw Adroit undertaking fishery patrols to the north-west calling at Broome and Port Hedland. Eight interceptions of foreign fishing vessels were undertaken during this patrol with the assistance of a Western Australian Fisheries Inspector.

August saw the ship return to the north-west area before berthing at Darwin where the ship was visited by local school children. The remainder of the month was consumed with routine patrol work near Ashmore Reef where two Indonesian fishing vessels were boarded.

Fishery patrols continued throughout September in the Gulf of Carpentaria area where the ship supported Exercise WALLABY HOP with the 2/4th RAR before returning to Darwin via Thursday Island and Alyangula.

Divisions were held in early November followed by engine trials and further visits to the patrol boat by local school children. The month concluded with participation in a 'Squadex' with Assail, Aware and Bayonet before returning to Darwin.

Early December saw Adroit operating chiefly in the Wessel Islands area investigating a reported submarine sighting which proved inconclusive. Her crew met with tribal elders in Grays Bay and visited Alyangula before returning to Darwin for the Christmas leave period.



January 1982 saw Adroit at sea in company with HMAS Aware in Gove where members of the Australian Army's Norforce were embarked for passage to Raragala Island. Upon completion Adroit in company with Assail and Barbette berthed at Alyangula. In recognition of Adroit's frequent visits to Alyangula the local golf club adopted Adroit adding to previous adoptions by the Arnhem Golf Club and Kenmore Girl Guides in Brisbane.

February saw patrols continuing in the north-west area with stops for fuel and stores made at Broome, Yampi Sound and Port Hedland before returning to Darwin.

In March a new Commanding Officer, Lieutenant MJ Taylor, RAN, joined the ship in Darwin, and following a short maintenance period she departed Darwin to patrol the north west areas calling at Broome and Derby. On that occasion two Taiwanese fishing vessels were intercepted and boarded.

The patrol of the north west continued throughout April where a further five interceptions were made before the ship returned briefly to Darwin before heading to the Gulf of Carpentaria area of operations. The ship was again visiting Alyangula on Anzac Day where Adroit's Commanding Officer took the salute during a march past. Fishery patrols resumed soon-after with a further visit to Gove before returning to Darwin.

An artist’s impression of HMAS Adroit at sea.
An artist's impression of HMAS Adroit at sea.

Early May saw Adroit alongside in Darwin undertaking important maintenance before resuming the normal pattern of fishery patrols duties in the north west areas with two Western Australian Fisheries Inspectors embarked. Ports visits were made to Wyndham, Broome and Dampier where two Taiwanese trawlers were boarded. The ship then visited Monte Bello Islands to check on the residual radiation levels at an oyster farm before proceeding to Dampier.

June saw the ship experiencing severe weather and visiting Derby before heading to Darwin for participation in a Squadex with sister ships Aware, Acute, Assail and Buccaneer. A welcome two-week assisted maintenance period followed.

In July, fishery patrols were abruptly cut short due to an engine room fire. The fire was quickly extinguished but the event necessitated Adroit returning to Darwin to assess damage. Fishery patrols resumed later in the month in the north-west areas which included port visits to Broome and Port Hedland. During this patrol six Taiwanese fishing vessels were boarded.

Routine maintenance saw Adroit spend the first half of August in Darwin before resuming patrols in the East Arnhem area and Gove. This was followed by participation in a night encounter exercise with HMA Ships Yarra and Swan before returning to Darwin.

Early September 1982 saw further patrol work take place in the north-west areas calling at Broome, West Lewis Island and Scott Reef. Two Indonesian vessels and three Taiwanese pair trawlers were boarded during that time. News was also received of a successful prosecution against a previously intercepted Taiwanese Fishing vessel which was heavily fined for incursions into Australian territory by a Broome Court. By the end of the patrol a further nine vessels had been boarded before the patrol boat returned to Darwin. There was little respite, however, as Adroit was ordered at short notice to rendezvous with HM Yacht Britannia and transfer two senior sailors ashore for compassionate reasons.

In October 1982 Adroit became one of the first patrol boats to use the new wharf at the Darwin Naval Base (DNB). The new base was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth (II) on 6 October. Fishery Patrols recommenced with calls made to Yampi Sound, Broome, Adele Island and Derby. Two Indonesian Fishing vessels were boarded during that time. The ship then continued further south to patrol Scott Reef where a further seven Indonesian Fishing vessels were boarded before returning to Darwin.

November saw Divisions and an annual inspection of Adroit conducted followed by a compass swing and sea trials. The ship then proceeded to Exmouth to tow HMAS Buccaneer, which had suffered a major engineering defect, back to Darwin. Before the end of the month Adroit was joined by officers of the NT Parks and Wildlife to survey the Ashmore Reef area. The remainder of the year was spent alongside undergoing urgent maintenance.


Adroit leaves the HMAS Stirling small boats harbour for the first time with her black swan logos fitted to the funnel, circa 1983.
Adroit leaves the HMAS Stirling small boats harbour for the first time with her black swan logos fitted to the funnel, circa 1983.

January 1983 saw Adroit on passage to HMAS Stirling which was to be her future home port. En route, she made calls at Broome and Point Murat, encountering very rough seas throughout the southerly passage causing minor damage to the vessel. Once at HMAS Stirling crews were exchanged with HMAS Acute and a new Commanding Officer appointed (Lieutenant SV Townsend, RAN) as she prepared for a new chapter of service.

Adroit remained alongside until March at which time she departed for sea trials before heading north to conduct fishery patrols calling at Geraldton, Dampier, Monte Bello Islands and Port Hedland en route. On completion the ship returned to HMAS Stirling for routine maintenance.

HMAS Adroit alongside HMAS Stirling.
HMAS Adroit alongside HMAS Stirling.

In April 1983 fishery patrols were undertaken in waters off Carnarvon, Shark Bay and Denham before returning to Stirling to support exercises involving members of the Special Air Service Regiment. The ship then conducted fishery patrols in southerly waters making calls at Bunbury and Busselton where the crew participated in an Anzac Day parade.

The patrol work continued in southern waters throughout early May before Adroit returned to HMAS Stirling where preparations were made to hand over the vessel to the RANR for future operations and training purposes. Command of Adroit subsequently passed to Lieutenant PG Lockwood, RAN, before the ship went into refit. At that time it was noted that Adroit had travelled some 245,913 nautical miles while conducting fishery patrols.

Adroit pictured high and dry on the HMAS Stirling slipway in Western Australia.
Adroit pictured high and dry on the HMAS Stirling slipway in Western Australia.

Between May and August the ship remained in refit at HMAS Stirling.

On 26 August 1983 in a small ceremony conducted in the small boats harbour at HMAS Stirling her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Peter Lockwood, RAN, handed Adroit over to the Commanding Officer of the Fremantle Port Division Commander Don Bantock, RD, RANR, for use by the Western Australian Division of the RANR. In that role her crew comprised three RANR officers, fourteen RANR sailors and two PNF sailors.

HMAS Adroit, manned by Fremantle Port Division, RANR.
HMAS Adroit, manned by personnel of the Fremantle Port Division, RANR.


HMAS Adroit, circa 1987.
HMAS Adroit at sea, circa 1987.

In her capacity as a training vessel Adroit regularly participated in exercises in the Western Australian Exercise Area during which time she operated routinely with both major and minor units of the RAN and RANR. Port visits were routinely made along the Western Australian coastline as well as several to Darwin. Some fishery patrol work was also undertaken and Adroit continued to add to her already impressive tally of interceptions.

Other highlights included involvement in the very successful 1987 America's Cup yacht race when she joined HMA Ships Derwent, Stuart, Swan, Geraldton and Bunbury in waters off Gage Roads.

On Sunday 28 March 1992 HMAS Adroit decommissioned at HMAS Stirling.

HMAS Adroit was decommissioned on Saturday 28 March 1992 at HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Garden Island, WA.
HMAS Adroit was decommissioned on Saturday 28 March 1992 at HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Garden Island, WA.
HMAS Adroit was sunk on 8 August 1994, west of Rottnest Island, WA, by RNZAF A4 Skyhawks.
HMAS Adroit was sunk on 8 August 1994, west of Rottnest Island, WA, by RNZAF A4 Skyhawks.

Further reading