- Fogarty, Michael
- Biographies and personal histories, Obituaries
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Duchess
- March 2010 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Duchess had no active role off Vietnam in 1967. On passage, from Bangkok to Hong Kong, she exchanged identities with USS Falgout near outlying Non Khoai Island. There was some symmetry. Several years earlier, she was the first USN destroyer to be commanded by an African-American, the late Vice Admiral Sam Gravely. Duchess herself was later challenged by a US maritime reconnaissance aircraft between Cam Ranh Bay and Nha Trang. Signal intercepts revealed Duchess was mistaken for its mother ship. Now even the USN looked to Kel for his leadership.
After a posting to HMAS Albatross at Nowra, and a Staff Officer role at Navy Office, Kel resigned in 1972 to settle in Canberra. He and his wife Lillian could then spend more time raising their only child, Philip. In civil employment, Kel joined the inaugural Marine Operations Centre, later becoming director of the merged Coastal Surveillance Organization. At a personal level, Kel was tireless in community activities, too numerous to fully detail. He also became CEO of the National Capital Agricultural Society – effectively running the annual Canberra Show.
Honours came late to this citizen. He was awarded the OAM (2001) and the Centenary Medal (2004). On the death of his wife Lillian, a community worker herself, Kel married Karen Govier, from Minnesota, USA. In late 2008, they moved to Taree. On Kel’s death, a funeral service was held at the Royal Military College chapel. Two former stokers joined with other officers, family members and friends, as pall-bearers. A former sea captain was an inspiration to many. We look to those among us who will take us forward. Hugh Kelvin Duncan was such a man.
The writer served as a midshipman under Commander Duncan in HMAS Duchess 1966-67