What’s in a name?

BOAT builders Austal had a naming ceremony recently at its Henderson shipyard for two of its 14 baby girls delivered to the Royal Australian Navy. There was no Jessica, Emily or Britney names thrown around at the docks. Instead, the sixth and seventh Armidale Class Patrol Boats, measuring in at 56 metres, were christened “Maitland” and “Ararat”. Parochially Western Australian, The Note almost choked on an Arrowroot biscuit when the latter name was revealed. Of course, a detailed study of Australian geography reminded us that, apart from a Middle Eastern mountain, Ararat is also the name of a small Victorian regional centre. Furthermore, there was also the original HMAS Ararat, one of 60 Australian Minesweepers (commonly known as Corvettes) operational in World War Two. HMAS Ararat served mainly on patrol and escort duties in New Guinea, with occasional bombardments on enemy held positions and, after the war, she cleared minefields. The craft steamed a total of 109,000 miles before eventually being sold and finished a long career in 1961 after towing a floating crane to Japan before being broken up there. The other all-aluminium, monohull vessel named “Maitland” is the first to take the name of the New South Wales town that provided war time Navy support as a transit depot, port war signal station, port examination service, general security and convoy support. To be based in the ports of Darwin and Cairns, the new fleet will carry out surveillance, interception, investigation, apprehension and the escort to port of vessels suspected of illegal fisheries, quarantine, customs or immigration offences. Austal teamed with Defence Maritime Services, the prime contractor, to win the $553 million “output specified” contract in 2003.

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