February 1, 2019 – Commander Navy Shore Force, Captain Stephen Bowater recently joined Top End Navy members as they paused to commemorate the sinking of HMAS Patricia Cam and the loss of nine lives.
Members of HMAS Coonawarra ship’s company, resident units and Darwin-based Armidale Class Patrol Boats (APCB) gathered at the small boats landing as Captain Bowater committed a commemorative wreath to sea.
Patricia Cam was a Sydney built wooden motor vessel originally designed as a tuna fishing boat before being commissioned as a General Purpose Vessel in the Royal Australian Navy.
On 22 January 1943, the ship was conducting an island supply run from Milingimbi to Elcho Island, East of Darwin, when it was attacked and sunk by a Japanese aircraft. In addition to her crew of 19, the auxiliary minesweeper was carrying a missionary and five Yolngu men.
The attack and sinking claimed the lives of five sailors and three Yolngu men.
Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra, Commander Darren Rushworth said the date is of high importance.
“Patricia Cam was commissioned into the RAN during World War Two at a time of great need.”
“This event is poignant for us in the North as it occurred in our area of operations and reminds us of the sacrifices our forebears made in our territory,” Commander Rushworth said.
HMAS Coonawarra is Navy’s busiest port in terms of ship movements, a vital gateway to northern neighbours as well as a base for border integrity operations.
Official RAN photos