HMS Illustrious Global Tour '86

Ran's 75th Anniversary Naval Review - Sydney 1986

Planning for the review began in late 1983. The nations that were invited were those with whom the RAN had a long relationship with. Top of the list was the Royal Navy, who sent a task force centred on HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (R-06) and her air group under the command of RADM R. Hogg, Flag Officer First Flottila. With ILLUSTRIOUS was HMS BEAVER (F-93), HMS MANCHESTER (D-95) and HMS AMAZON (F-169), along with the Royal Fleet Auxilarys RFA FORT GRANGE (A-385), RFA BAYLEAF (A-109) and RFA OLMEDA (A-124).

The Royal New Zealand Navy sent two frigates, HMNZS SOUTHLAND (F-104) and HMNZS CANTERBURY (F-421).

The French Navy sent the frigate FNS COMMANDANT BLASION (F-793).

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force was represented by the patrol boat HMPNGS AITAPE (P-84).

The Canadian Navy sent three destroyers from the Fourth Canadian Destroyer Squadron under the Command of Captain E. Davie. They were HMCS YUKON (DD-263), HMCS QU'APPELLE (DD-264), and HMCS SASKATCHEWAN (DD-262).

To round off the Review fleet was the United States Navy. The fleet of four ships was lead by the Flagship of the United States Seventh Fleet, USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) with Commander, United States Seventh Fleet, VADM P. McCarthy embarked. Two destroyers, the USS PAUL F. FOSTER (DD-964) and USS OLDENDORF (DD-972) sailed with the BLUE RIDGE.

The last USN vessel was the USS MISSOURI (BB-63). RADM Martin in his interview tell that it was a surprise when the USN offered to send the battleship to the Review, but it was quickly apparent that MISSOURI was THE SHIP that drew the most attention.

As 1986 began, the RAN began to promote both the Review, and the RAN, around the country. HMAS STALWART (AD-215) lead an task force of RAN ships to Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Fremantle, Darwin, and Brisbane.

As time grew near for the Review, the visiting ships began to arrive at ports around Australia as they headed for Sydney. The last two weeks saw the largest naval exercises held by Australia since WWII off the east coast, with units of the RAN conducting a ceremonial departure from Sydney two weeks prior.

On the 29 September 1986 twenty six warships from Australia and six foreign navies conducted a Fleet Entry into Sydney Harbour. Over the course of six hours the fleet, broken into groups, was berthed in locations around the harbour. It was a very public beginning to the Review, and a sight to see on Sydney Harbour. They continued to arrive the next day.

Off the New South Wales coast on 30 September the USS MISSOURI arrived. The press and various VIPs were flown out to the battleship to witness firsthand a battleship firepower demonstration. For a lucky few they saw a full starboard broadside with the sixteen inch guns and five inch secondary batteries

The next day, 1 October, saw the MISSOURI arrive in Sydney Harbour for her first and only visit. The public turned out in force as this legend of naval history berthed at the Garden Island naval base.

2 October saw a march in Sydney by the combined navies, with the Governor General of Australia, Bill Hayden, taking the salute. As these big events were taking place, so were others all around the harbour, from Church Services to Navy concerts.

In the early morning of 4 October, a beautiful clear sunny day, the ships of the combined fleet started to move into position for the Review, with twelve warships, HMAS PERTH (DDG-38), HMS BEAVER (F-93), HMNZS SOUTHLAND (F-104), HMCS YUKON (DD-263), USS PAUL F. FOSTER (DD-964), FNS COMMANDANT BLASION (F-793), HMPNGS AITAPE (P-84) HMAS FLINDERS (A-312), HMAS DUBBO (P-214), HMAS WOLLONGONG (P-206), HMAS ADVANCE (P-83), DTV SEAL (Y-1001), and TRV TREVALLY (TRV-802) leaving the harbour. They would return in the same order as both the Mobile Review Line and the Small Ships Review Line.

By 1130hrs all is ready, with the Reviewing Officer, Admiral of the Fleet HRH Prince Philip, Governor General of Australia, Bill Hayden, Prime Minister Bob Hawke, RAN CNS ADM Michael Hudson AO, and other VIPs embarked onboard the Reviewing Ship, HMAS COOK (A-291) and with her escort HMAS GEELONG (P-210) headed for a position just off Bennalong Point near the Sydney Opera House.

At 1200hrs, with a crowd estimated at over three quarters of a million people lining the harbour on land or on the water, the RAN's 75th Anniversary Naval Review began as the Mobile Review Line, led by HMAS PERTH with the RAN Fleet Commander RADM Ian Knox embarked, said past HMAS COOK, firing a 21 Gun Salute and the crew 'Mans and Cheers Ship'. The other ships HMS BEAVER, HMNZS SOUTHLAND, HMCS YUKON, USS PAUL F. FOSTER, FNS COMMANDANT BLASION, and HMPNGS AITAPE followed PERTH, with their crews 'Cheering Ship' as they pasted HMAS COOK.

When the Mobile Review Line was complete, HMAS COOK and HMAS GEELONG get underway to review the ships anchored around the northern part of the harbour, HMAS SUCCESS (AOR-304), HMAS OVENS (SSG-70), HMAS ILLUSTRIOUS, USS BLUE RIDGE, and USS MISSOURI with all crews 'Mans and Cheers Ship' before arriving off Bradley's Head at 1230hrs to review the Small Ships Review Line, led by HMAS FLINDERS, and followed by HMAS DUBBO, HMAS WOLLONGONG, HMAS ADVANCE, DTV SEAL, and TRV TREVALLY. In the air the first of the flypasts begin, with RAAF Orions flying in review.

With the Small Ships Review Line completing their duties, HMAS COOK and HMAS GEELONG then continued their journey, passing RFA FORT GRANGE, HMAS JERVIS BAY (GT-203),HMCS SASKATCHEWAN, HMAS OTAMA (SSG-62), HMS AMAZON, USS OLDENDORF, HMS MANCHESTER, and HMCS QU'APPELLE located near Clarke Island, before returning to the middle of the harbour.

The beginning of HMAS COOK and HMAS GEELONG's return to Bennalong Point took her past HMNZS CANTERBURY, HMAS DERWENT (DE-49), HMAS ADELAIDE (FFG-01), HMAS DARWIN (FFG-04) before passing Fort Denison and turning into the waters of the Garden Island naval base, 'Mans and Cheers Ship' passed the RAN Fleet Flagship HMAS STALWART (AD-215), HMAS TORRENS (DE-53), HMAS PARRAMATTA (DE-46) and HMAS CANBERRA (FFG-02).

As HMAS COOK and HMAS GEELONG departed Garden Island naval base she pasted HMAS TOBRUK (L-50) and HMAS HOBART (DDG-39), before arriving at Bennalong Point. There, at 1323 hours, the second flypast of the day occurs with helicopters from RAN and other navies, as well as aircraft including the Sea Harriers from ILLUSTRIOUS.

HMAS GEELONG pasted HMAS COOK 'Mans and Cheers Ship', completing the Review. HMAS COOK heads back to Garden Island naval base as those ships involved in the Review Lines also return. Once the last ship docks, those members of the public on the water begin looking over the warships anchored in the harbour, before getting into position for the night's festivities.

As night falls several barges enter the harbour, with the police keeping people clear. At 1930 hours a fireworks display begins, lighting up the harbour along with the anchored ships, now dressed with lights. The display lasts for thirty minutes. Onboard HMAS STALWART, a Royal Reception for HRH Prince Philip begins at 2000 hours, the final Offical Event of the day.

Another clear day on 5 October. All the review ships had, in the early hours of the morning, returned to their berths around the harbour. This day was the public open day of the Review. RADM Martin planned on over 150 000 people to attend. Over 300 000 Sydneysiders crammed the roads, most hoping to tour MISSOURI at Garden Island. Tours that were scheduled from 1300-1600hrs began early as the crowd grew, by 1300hrs Garden Island was full, the line was stopped at the gate, with police turning people away. Even by 1600hrs there were still people in the line that had not stepped foot on a warship. The biggest concern was the safety of the public, but by 2000hrs the last of the public was off the base, and there were few injuries, the public mostly were understanding of the situation.

In Rear Admiral David Martin candid interview, he stated that he expected a crowd that could fill the Sydney Cricket Ground twice. He, and the rest of the navy, were truly amazed at the public response for the open day, and very happy that no one got badly hurt. His apology was heartfelt, and he repeated it whenever the subject came up.

On the morning of 6 October MISSOURI departed Sydney Harbour for Fremantle. Hundreds of small boats escorted the battleship from the harbour. For many involved in the Review, MISSOURI was the highlight. Over the next days the rest of the combined fleet would depart Sydney for other ports, the Royal Navy would stop in Fremantle for a week before returning home.

The RAN's 75th Anniversary Naval Review was a great success. Two years later the RAN held the Bicentennial Naval Salute to commemorate 200 years since the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney. Over twenty countries were represented. But while the BNS was as successful as the RAN's 75th NR, the Review in 1986 became the standard which other such events are now judged. It was hoped that another Review would be held on 4 October 2001 to celebrate Australia's Federation, but the events of 9/11 changed that.

HMS Illustrious Global '86 Tour
Oct. 4, 1986: HMS Illustrious at the RAN's 75th Anniversary in Sydney Harbou

A total of 26 major warships attended the RAN's 75th Anniversary International Naval Salute in Sydney Harbour. Among the prestige capital ships was the Royal Navy's Invincible Class light carrier HMS Illustrious, built by Swan Hunter, and commissioned on July 20, 1982 - only four years before this photo was taken.

Astern of her is USS Blue Ridge. Beyond Illustrious is the Type 22 frigate HMS Beaver, with the RAN's HMAS Adelaide behind her.

In the far distance is the RFA Fort Grange, ahead of her HMCS Qu'Appelle, and ahead of her HMS Manchester.

HMS Illustrious Harriers
Sydney Harbour 1986 (Look how full that fanny boat is!)