Anzac navies transit the Suez Canal

A childhood dream came to life recently for HMAS Anzac’s Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Matthew Warren, as he navigated the ship through the Suez Canal as she transited in company with HMAS Success and New Zealand’s HMNZS Te Kaha to the Mediterranean for the Centenary of Anzac commemorations.

“For the trip from Australia to Gallipoli, the Suez Canal takes away the need to sail around the Horn of Africa, and replicates the original passage taken by the ANZACs in December 1914.

“For modern warships like Anzac and Te Kaha who have made the journey from Australia together, this shortens the trip by weeks.

“In the days of sail, the Suez Canal would take months off a trip, and eliminate the need to traverse some dangerous oceans and sail against the trade winds or simply sail around Cape Horn,” Lieutenant Warren said.

The journey through the Suez Canal occurred on an unusually busy day, with the three warships joining a convoy of 42 ships sailing north from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

One of the helmsmen steering Anzac during the 12 hour journey was Able Seaman Kendal Burke.

“I can only imagine what this journey would have been like for the original ANZACs 100 years ago, as they travelled towards the unknown.

“For us the Suez Canal marked a definite milestone in our deployment.

“For the sailors and diggers a century ago there must have been a lot of excitement mixed with fears for what the future would bring.

“By following in their wake we get to commemorate the sacrifices those men made,” Able Seaman Burke said.

In HMAS Success, the sentiment was shared.

The officers onboard delighted in the occasion to dine in ‘Red Sea Rig’ – a more formal uniform – on their last night in the Red Sea, before the passage through the Suez Canal during the night of 14-15 April.

Success provided support to Anzac and Te Kaha throughout the passage, utilising her embarked Seahawk helicopter ODIN and took opportunities to undertake crew member cross deck opportunities via boat.

Commanding Officer Success, Captain Justin Jones said it was special to share this experience with other Australian and New Zealand ships.

“After five months on operations in the Middle East, it was excellent to rendezvous with Anzac and Te Kaha to proceed into the Mediterranean for Centenary of Anzac commemorations,” Captain Jones said.

While Te Kaha and Anzac proceeded to Turkey, Success is in Greece for Anzac Day, and will complete one final patrol for Operation MANITOU before returning home to Fleet Base East in June.

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