HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

9 August 2016

Wrecked Navy Yacht.

Air lifted off Hyams beach today - August 8th 2016.
base-2HMAS Creswell. click to enlarge all images..

June 2016
Back in June the coast was slammed by a very deep East Coast Low producing large waves measured by offshore bouys at 17 meters.

The headlands and narrow entrance to the bay offered little protection as the huge north swell smashed straight into H.M.A.S Creswell.

The base suffered a lot of damage to it’s infrastructure,  least of which was two of the Navy’’s training yachts Alexander and Friendship.  They were behind the breakwall and secured to large floating concrete pontoons,  thought to be safe.

During the height of the storm large waves rolled right over the breakwall and dislodged the concrete pontoons from their moorings.
It has to be understood just how violent and dangerous these waves were to cause this to happen.

The pontoons are fixed to large steel pylons driven deep into the sea bed,   these have steel railway track like slides running vertically down the sides that are designed to let the 17 ton sealed concrete pontoons freely rise and fall with the tides and swell.

The height of the steel pylons is around 3 meters above water level,  for the waves to come over the wall with such force and lift these 17 ton pontoons clear off the top off the pylons is quite amazing.

The two yachts attached to the pontoons were then ripped out of the harbour and started to drift with the wind and driving swell towards the beach.

The men from DMS, quickly followed in a work boat trying to get a rope onto the yachts and haul them back to safety.

With great difficulty they managed to do this  with the yacht Friendship,  but unfortunately,  despite successfully attaching tow ropes to Alexander she was found to be still attached to the pontoons,  it was decided they had no choice but to abandon the attempt in the dangerous deteriorating conditions.  They were forced to stand off,  and watch helplessly as Alexander and the pontoons were driven onto Hyams Beach not far from the base.

Once the storm had subsided an inspection was made,  and the yacht was found to be beyond recovery.

Alexander has been sadly lying ungraciously on her side, holed and scared,  slowly being burried by the shifting sands ever since,  while plans were being arranged to get her off the beach.

Continue reading a previous post about the June storm.

Yacht-cut-into-piecesThe once beautiful yacht Alexander shown here cut into pieces ready for the lift.
no-entryPreparing the pieces for the lift.

August 8th.
Over this week a team of men have been digging the now half sand covered yacht out of it’s resting place.   Using cutting equipment they cut the yacht into three large pieces ready to be lifted clear of the beach by a helicopter.

This has been a difficult,  back breaking job, as large digging equipment had no way to access the area,  so everything had to be done by hand.

The yachts life raft was found over a meter below the sand and had to be dug out,  other equipment from the yacht suffered the same.

Around 2pm today a powerful helicopter arrived and started to lift the pieces off the beach.  It was exciting to watch, but very sad for some of the Base observers as the yacht was a favourite training vessel for young Naval College Cadets.

The whole operation took less that an hour and a half,  as piece, after piece,  was lifted and disappeared over the back of the trees, where the final recovery team will strip any valued parts off the wreckage.

chopperThe helicopter on arrival.
Getting ready for the first lift.
chopper-pick-up-7pgStaff and onlookers.
Bow section being lifted.
another section of hull on it’s way to be scrapped.

The 17 ton Pontoons.
This is an entirely different proposition, they are to large and heavy to lift,  so other options have to be considered.  At the moment the pontoons are buried deep in the sand,  they are around a meter deep at their sides and most of this is under the sand.  The normally empty pontoons have been damaged and are expected to be either full of water or sand making the job that much more difficult.

17-ton-concrete-floating-pontoonsTwo of the four pontoons buried deep in the sand.

The surviving yacht Friendship received a badly holed hull and is currently in drydock at HMAS Creswell being repaired and repainted.

friendship in drydock - paul newman.




  1. Great photos Rob and yes it was sad to watch. Di