41-YEAR-OLD BOTTLE FOUND IN WARSHIP’S MAST
A BURIED treasure hidden in the former warship HMAS Sydney for 35 years has been discovered while the ship is being scrapped at a dockyard in Henderson.
During construction of the ship in 1982 at the Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, the build team put a small bottle of whisky wrapped in pipe insulation in the forward starboard leg of the main mast.
Kewdale man Alan Higgins was part of the commissioning crew that went to Seattle to bring the ship home to Australia, arriving back around March 1984.
The bottle of whisky remained undetected, wrapped in pipe insulation, throughout the ship’s service in the Royal Australian Navy before it was decommissioned in November 2015.
Workers at the Birdon company in Henderson received word earlier this month from a former Todd employee that the bottle could still be there and cut away the mast to reveal a small bottle of six-year-old Canadian whisky.
Former HMAS Sydney crewman Brenton Freind said “the number of times I’ve walked past that post not knowing... if only”.
Darin MacDonald said the six-year-old Canadian blend was now 41-year-old whisky.
“Probably about time to get into it with some ginger ale over ice; only fitting,” he said. Picture courtesy: Royal Australian Navy.
Ja Worsley found it ironic that there had been Canadian whisky on US-made warship that served Australia for many years.
There were calls from other crew members for the bottle to be preserved at the National Maritime Museum, given to the ship’s first commanding officer Paul Kable, donated at auction to raise funds for charity or installed in the new HMAS Sydney being built in Adelaide.
The former HMAS Sydney under construction at the Todd Pacific shipyard in Seattle in 1982 (top). A Birdon worker cuts away a piece of the mast after receiving a tipoff about the whisky bottle (above, left). The bottle of whiskey.