The navy crew that located a downed US Marines craft off Rockhampton has been awarded one of the Royal Australian Navy's highest honours by Prince Charles.
Three marines were killed when their tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey crashed at Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton, during a training exercise last August.
The Prince of Wales handed over the Duke of Gloucestor Cup to HS Blue crew on board HMAS Leeuwin base on Sunday - the first time it has been awarded to a vessel in Cairns or a hydrographic ship.
HS Blue Crew operated on a multi-crew system rotating between two hydrographic ships, HMAS Leeuwin and HMAS Melville, the latter of which is currently undergoing maintenance.
It was aboard Melville that their exploits set them apart from the rest of the navy, with achievements including the discovery of several uncharted shoals and performing underwater recovery of the US Marine Corps' crashed MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft near Rockhampton in August.
"HS Blue's exceptional contribution to the full spectrum of operations throughout 2017 has distinguished you from amongst the other fine units of the Royal Australian Navy," Charles said.
"I know that these outstanding achievements are born of extraordinary hard work, discipline, and perhaps most importantly of all, genuine teamwork.
"They exemplify the very best of the Royal Australian Navy values of honesty, courage, integrity and loyalty."
Prince Charles also spoke about his own military service during his visit to HMAS Cairns base.
"That time I spent with the hydrographic service enabled me to understand its vital importance to the navy," Charles said.
"I even took part in the salvage of a merchant ship, something I discovered which proved rather beneficial to the ship's company - in descending order from the commanding officer."
Charles also paid tribute to the Anzacs who had perished in war, and the military families who supported the men and women of the navy.
"Your achievements are built on the foundations laid by the selfless dedication of all those servicemen and women who have gone before you," he said.
"Furthermore, I suspect that these achievements probably owe a considerable amount to the support, encouragement and above all the understanding of your families."