Captain’s fleet returns in sound state

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
‘Captain Fred Barkell’ returns his Anzac fleet to the Leschenault Estuary.
Camera Icon‘Captain Fred Barkell’ returns his Anzac fleet to the Leschenault Estuary. Credit: South Western Times, Callum Hunter

The Anzac Fleet returned to the Leschenault Estuary last week, much to the delight of passersby and the community.

A mysterious local known as ‘Captain Fred Barkell’ or simply ‘Captain’ is the brains behind the operation, having designed, built and navigated all of the warships into the estuary.

“I used to take my grand-father to the dawn service in Albany and one day he looked out into King George Sound and I could see he was upset about something but I knew he wouldn’t talk about it,” the Captain said.

“Years later I showed him a photo of all the ships anchored, ready to go to Gallipoli in 1914, and he told me that’s what he saw when he looked out into the sound.”

In a touching tribute to his grandfather and fallen Anzacs, the fleet first appeared in the estuary last month, patrolling the waters off Christina Park and keeping the residents of Australind safe.

Earlier this month, though, the ships vanished after one of the destroyers went missing.

‘Captain Barkell’ said he withdrew the fleet to prevent the loss of any more vessels to the influx of people in the area for Groovin’ the Moo.

“The lights on them had failed as well so we repaired them while we were at it,” he said.

The fleet’s return did not go unnoticed, with countless beeps from passing cars and multiple walkers stopping off to snatch a photograph.

The South Western Times broke the news of the fleet’s return in real time on Friday afternoon, with the Facebook post attracting more than 100 likes, almost 20 comments and four shares within 18 hours.

One elderly gentlemen who stopped by to see the ships be relaunched described the sight as “marvellous” and “wonderful”.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails