After commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy in Britain during the Autumn of 1962, the ships were re-named TEAL, IBIS, HAWK, GULL, SNIPE, and CURLEW, respectively. Their new ships’ companies, 60% of whom were RAN Reservists, had an intensive period of “work up” to familiarise themselves with new equipment off Port Edgar, Scotland, then the newly-named RAN 16th Minesweeper Squadron joined the fleet replenishment vessel HMAS SUPPLY in Portsmouth and sailed for Australia on 1 October 1962 via Suez, Singapore and Darwin, arriving in Sydney on 7 December.
A few days later they moved to their newly established shore base, HMAS WATERHEN, and began off-shore patrols and training to equip additional ships companies and base staff for their future roles.
During the early 1960’s Indonesia initiated hostilities against the newly-formed nation of Malaysia, which had joined the nine states in peninsular Malaya with the states of Sabah and Sarawak in North Borneo. Initially the city states of Singapore and Brunei were also part of this union but they soon ceded to preserve their economic independence. President Sukaerno of Indonesis objected to the formation of Malaysia, as he wished to incorporate all of the island of Borneo, including oil-rich Brunei, into Indonesia and he backed attempts to foster civil unrest in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, using agents of the Communist party. Britain, Australia and New Zealand responded to requests by Malaysia under a joint defence pact and sent troops and ships to resist incursions by Indonesia
TEAL and her sister ships CURLEW, IBIS and SNIPE, engaged with ships of the Royal Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy in anti-infiltration patrols off the coasts of peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.
The minesweepers usually patrolled in pairs and for much of that period TEAL worked with CURLEW. On 13th. December 1964, off Raffles Lighthouse, Singapore, TEAL under the command of Lieutenant Keith (Gus) Murray, intercepted two unlit Indonesian sampans at night. The sampans fired automatic weapons at TEAL, then turned to escape towards nearby Indonesian waters. Following further small arms engagements that killed three Indonesian crew members and wounded four others, one sampan was overpowered and surrendered to TEAL.
Lieutenant Keith Murray was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, for his coolness and judgment during the action. The Distinguished Service Cross was the only award for gallantry made to the Royal Australian Navy during Confrontation.
In February 1966 TEAL was on patrol off Malacca, when she encountered ten Indonesians in a boat 8 miles off Cape Rachardo. They were wearing jungle green uniforms with the insignia of a rebel group. TEAL seized the boat and infiltrators, discovering weapons and ammunition, food and supplies. The prisoners were transferred to the civilian police
Later in 1966 TEAL landed a demolition team on Sebatik Island near Tawau, in Sabah, Borneo, to assist Malaysian Army engineers clear obstructions on a road building project linking resettlement villages.
Confrontation ended in July 1966, following the overthrow of President Sukaerno. Between 17 August 1964 and 19 April 1965, HMAS TEAL sailed 32,550 miles and was at sea for 199 days. She boarded over 100 vessels and took 18 prisoners, including an opium smuggler. Six hostile boats were captured.
TEAL was decommissioned from the RAN and sold into private hands in October 1977 and in 1983 was converted into a trawler, in Hobart, Tasmania, her Deltic Engines being replaced with less thirsty General Motors engines which were simpler to operate and maintain. She was engaged in fishing mainly for prawns, off the east coast of Queensland and in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In February 1984 her stern was modified to equip her to carry a team of divers collecting abalone and scallops. She had the capability to process 60 tons of abalone each day.
In September 1985 she was converted yet again, with a viewing platform replacing her after superstructure to enable 300 seated passengers to watch the Americas Cup yacht races off Freemantle, Australia. A further conversion made her a cruise ship for up to 50 passengers in 13 luxury cabins on the re-modelled upper deck. She spent several seasons on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland as a floating hotel, changing position almost daily, to give her passengers a variety of different diving sites.
Chasing the growing diving/cruising market, the owner, a noted entrepreneur, made brief visits to Singapore and Hong Kong before re-locating the ship to Greece. This venture however did not prosper and the ship changed hands to a German company, who took her to the Caribbean for a couple of seasons.
By 1994 she was back in Greece, where she was bought by the University of the Near East, established in Nicosia, Cyprus in 1988. Initially the ship provided a practical base for courses in Tourism and Hotel Management, but since 1996 she has specialised in training officers for the Cyprus merchant marine. Students have undertaken research into marine archaeology, hydrological and environmental studies including the effects of marine pollution.
In November 2021 TEAL, having experienced a full and varied life for 66 years, was moved to a specially built dock in Girne to become a Maritime History Museum, bringing together more than 5,000 artefacts including paintings, photographs, maritime objects, ship models and nautical charts.
TCA has asssted the TEAL Museum project by compiling this short history of the ship and supplying photographs of her in her RAN role. We have also donated replica ships' badges of HMAS TEAL and HMS JACKTON to act as "gangway sentries".