HMAS Gascoyne departs Newcastle

HMAS Gascoyne’s departure from the port of Newcastle was met with a boom of excitement – four booms, in fact!

As the Royal Australian Navy minehunter left the Hunter River and entered the Pacific Ocean, nearby Fort Scratchley fired a four blank round salute from her two six-inch guns.

Gascoyne raised and lowered her 30mm cannon in reply.

Commanding Officer Gascoyne, Lieutenant Commander Alan Parton, said the traditional farewell was reserved for warships only.

Honouring maritime traditions such as this ensured a stronger Navy, he said.

“These links with our maritime past build pride, strengthen morale and hone professionalism,” Lieutenant Commander Parton said.

“While we are primarily trained as warfighters, events like this connect us to our history and help us to achieve an understanding of our profession. It can explain what it means to be a sailor.”

Fort Scratchley was designed by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley and built between 1881 and 1886.

It came under attack in World War II on the night of June 8, 1942.

Just days after the attack on Sydney Harbour, a Japanese submarine positioned off the Newcastle coast began to shell the shipyards.

The Japanese gun crew fired 34 rounds of which eight were illuminators or star shells.

Fort Scratchley fired four shots in return.

The shelling caused minimal damage and no casualties were recorded.