HMAS (Her Majesty's Australian Ship) Brisbane on her second deployment to Vietnam operates on the gunline. Crew members carry 5 inch shells during an underway replenishment (UNREP) at sea. [Left to right] Ordinary Seaman Underwater Weapons (ORDUW) Brian Simmonds, Ordinary Seaman Elecrical Mechanic (ORDEM) Allan Jamieson, Ordinary Seaman Steward (ORDSTD) Richard Hardstaff and ORDEM William Murphy, c. July 1971.
Living Spaces Inside a U.S. Naval Ship En Route to Vietnam
This is how we lived on the ship. All 3/4 Cavalry Troopers - Gary Schick, Paul Dockendorf, Don Kress, and forget the other names. 3/4 Cavalry HHT On U.S.N.S Gen. Weigel, 1966. This is the Troop Ship that we left Hawaii on heading to Okie on our way to Vietnam - This is all Pacific Ocean. Photo by Roger McGill.
We were all up on the deck looking at Okie, and wondering what we would be doing here. 3/4 Cavalry HHT (Headquarters & Headquarters Troop) On U.S.N.S (United States Naval Ship) General Weigel, 1966. This is the Troop Ship that we left Hawaii on heading to Okie on our way to Vietnam - This is all Pacific Ocean. Photo by Roger McGill.
Lighters Packed With 3RAR Vehicles Approach HMAS Sydney
Lighters packed with 3RAR vehicles approach HMAS Sydney, at Vung Tau. The departure of 3RAR troops and vehicles was the first major move in the withdrawal of the Australian forces from South Vietnam, 6 October 1971.
"Howard Walsh showing how some guys were just so Sea Sick you just wouldn't believe it, some never got out of their bunks. The shower and Latrine were full of it. 3/4 Cavalry HHT On U.S.N.S Gen. Weigel, 1966. This is the Troop Ship that we left Hawaii on heading to Okie on our way to Vietnam - This is all Pacific Ocean." -Roger McGill. Photo by Roger McGill.
Gary Schick in his bunk on the ship. "They were really cramped quarters. Not sure how the Navy guys do this day in and day out. 3/4 Cavalry HHT On U.S.N.S Gen. Weigel, 1966. This is the Troop Ship that we left Hawaii on heading to Okie on our way to Vietnam - This is all Pacific Ocean." -Vietnam Veteran. Photo by Roger McGill.
Troops Heading To Vietnam Participate In A Jack Stay Transfer
Troops heading to Vietnam participate in a jack stay transfer from HMAS Sydney across to the support ship Yarra. Many such activities kept soldiers occupied during the trips up to Vietnam, 1971. Photo by David Trigg.
‘Boarding Aussie diggers’ in 1966. HMAS Sydney departed Sydney, Brisbane, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Townsville during her 25 operational deployments to South Vietnam between May 1965 and November 1972. During the Vietnam War the task of moving, supplying and maintaining Australian forces in South Vietnam was shared between the Royal Australian Air Force, civilian aircraft – mainly Qantas – and ships from the Australian National Line (ANL). But the bulk of the task fell to the Royal Australian Navy and the vessel that carried out the majority of transport duties to and from Vietnam was the former aircraft carrier, HMAS Sydney. Sydney’s first voyage to South Vietnam, escorted by HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Duchess and HMAS Parramatta, began on 27 May 1965. For Sydney’s crew, the trip meant the chance to both establish routines for a logistic task, the like of which had not been undertaken by the navy for twenty years, and to gain an understanding of the risks facing their ship in hostile waters. In the years to come, the run to Vung Tau and back became an increasingly speedy and smooth operation. Nevertheless, each voyage required a great deal of hard work, particularly during the loading and unloading phase of the operation. In its role as the ‘Vung Tau Ferry’, HMAS Sydney brought together men from two distinct cultures: the army and the navy. In the days before she sailed from Australia, Sydney would be loaded with soldiers and their equipment. Crew members would be detailed to act as ‘sea daddies’ to groups of soldiers, helping them to get their bearings on board ship, showing them where to keep their gear and how to sling their hammocks – a novel, and often unwelcome, mode of sleeping for most soldiers. Apart from the unfamiliarity with shipboard life, or indeed with the ways of the navy, the soldiers often found Sydney to be uncomfortable, particularly in tropical waters when the heat below decks was intense. During loading and unloading, when Sydney and her escort ships were anchored off Vung Tau, their crews were prepared to counter any attacks launched from shore. The ship’s divers carried out constant patrols, checking hulls and cables while armed sentries stood on deck with orders to fire on suspicious movements in the water. As it turned out, neither Sydney nor her escorts were endangered in Vietnamese waters. But she performed in her role as ‘Vung Tau ferry’ very effectively, safely transporting thousands of troops to and from Vietnam along with thousands of tonnes of cargo and equipment. By 1972, when Australia’s involvement in Vietnam ended, Sydney had carried 16,000 army and RAAF personnel to Vung Tau on 24 ferry runs and had made a 25th trip to Vietnam to deliver and pick-up military equipment. Every voyage took between 10 and 12 days in each direction, a time during which soldiers heading for Vietnam were given hours of physical training and prepared for the year that they would have to spend as combatants in a war zone. For those on the return voyage after their twelve-month tour of duty, the passage to Australia offered a chance to relax, to reflect on their experiences and to prepare themselves for the transition from war to peace. Such a period of reflection was denied to those soldiers who returned home by aircraft, leaving Vietnam and being home within 10 hours. Although many Vietnam veterans recall being ignored upon their return to Australia, this was not the case for those who returned with their battalions on board HMAS Sydney. When the ship docked, the infantry were often met by dignitaries, including the Minister for the Army, and a march through the city - Sydney, Brisbane or Townsville - usually followed within hours. Sydney’s efforts were complemented by the work of two Australian National Line vessels, MV Jeparit and MV Boonaroo. After February 1967 Jeparit sailed with mixed crews, civilian seamen and naval personnel. Boonaroo made only two voyages to Vietnam and did one of these as a commissioned naval vessel. Jeparit on the other hand made 43 voyages to Vietnam, often coming up against strike action imposed by anti-war unions that delayed her loading and unloading. By 1970 authorities were sufficiently concerned at the toll that strike action was taking that in December that year she was commissioned as a Royal Australian Naval vessel, making union concerns, at least on board, irrelevant.
Australian Naval Personnel US-Built Patrol Boats, River (PBR)
Australian naval personnel worked alongside their US and South Vietnamese counterparts in a variety of situations. The US-built patrol boats, river (PBR) (most likely a Navy Swift Boat or PCF (Patrol Craft Fast)) operated both in the South China Sea and in the network of rivers interlacing the country. Photo by Tony Ey.
Damage to the deck of HMAS Perth, the only Australian vessel to receive a direct hit from enemy fire during the conflict. HMAS Perth came under fire from coastal defense batteries on 18 October 1967 and although the ship sustained only slight damage, seven sailors were wounded. Two of those wounded were evacuated by helicopter to USS Oriskany and then transferred to the US naval hospital at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Photo by Orm Cooper.