One of the most exciting events in the life of the Maritime Museum so far is the recent arrival into our collection of the patrol boat Townsville. Well known for its role in the first of the popular TV series Patrol Boat, the vessel is close to the hearts of the Townsville community.
The vessel was gifted to the museum by the Commonwealth Department of Defence in May 2007 with assistance from both the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and Member for Herbert Peter Lindsay, the-then Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, and the Mayor of Townsville, Cr. Tony Mooney.
The vessel is now sitting peacefully in Ross Creek at the Curtain Bros. wharf, thanks to the generosity of Sir Mick Curtain until its new home within the maritime precinct has been established. The ship has been given to us in pristine condition, as if the crew had all just stepped out for lunch. Items left on board for display range from the fully equipped galley to the mattresses on the bunks.
It is our intention at this time to maintain the vessel and engines in working order to ensure that Townsville remains viable - we are even considering being able to take her out on special occasions.
Known to those who served aboard her as 'The Black Knight Mustang 205' (don't ask as I don't know yet) this affectionate term was replaced by the wily coyote, which in itself is a good story. As you may know, the Coyote was continuously chasing the Roadrunner in the Roadrunner cartoon and never actually caught him although he tried very, very hard. Another aspect of this relationship was that the when the Coyote failed he picked himself up and continued to try and succeed in catching the Roadrunner over and over again. Not only that but the coyote always seemed to be in trouble........and sometimes so were some of the crew.
The relationship between the Coyote and the Roadrunner is somewhat like the relationships the patrol boats have with the illegal fishing boats. Whilst the Navy does catch many of these boats there are some that just seem to get away, but the Navy will still try and catch them -albeit at a later date.
Being a community asset, we are most keen to encourage organisations to take advantage of the unique opportunity that this vessel offers. The local Naval Cadets at T/S Coral Sea have expressed an interest in utilising the vessel for their training, as have various Emergence Response teams, eager to provide an unusual ‘real-life' experience for their rescue crews. We have even had requests for calendar and fashion photographic shoots.
Public access will be provided through guided tours on a daily basis, although as the vessel is remaining afloat, there will be some access limitations.
Our maintenance task force is about to take shape with ex-naval engineers, electronics experts and seamen taking an enthusiastic interest.
The campaign team will have a great deal of work to do to help us raise funds to ensure that the vessel is maintained in a professional manner. Donations and any offers of in-kind help will be very gratefully received.