R.A.N. Vietnam 1965 - 1972

 

 

The RAN In Vietnam
 

May 1965 - December 1972

 

Although HMAS Sydney had been ferrying Australian soldiers to Vietnam since May 1965, the RAN did not enter the war in a combat role until February 6th, 1967 when a six man Clearance Diving Team arrived in Vietnam to carry out harbour defence and explosive ordnance disposal ops. Clearance Diving Team 3 (CDT3) was based initially at Vung Tau but was reassigned to Da Nang, Quang Nam province, in August 1970. CDT3 remained in country until May 1971

 

RAN DESTROYERS

 

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Vendetta On Station - On The Gun Line

 

On March 3, 1967, Mr Don Chipp, Minister for the Navy, announced that the new guided missile destroyer, HMAS Hobart, would join the US Seventh Fleet for service in Vietnamese waters. Hobart, and HMAS Perth which followed her, each undertook three deployments; the third DDG, HMAS Brisbane, two, and the Australian built Daring Class Destroyer, HMAS Vendetta, one.

 

Each deployment was of six months duration. Brisbane the last RAN destroyer to serve returned to Australia in October 1971. The destroyers carried out naval gunfire support missions in all of Sth Vietnam's four military regions, and Hobart and Perth took part in Operation Sea Dragon, the interdiction of supply routes and logistic craft along the coast of Nth Vietnam from the DMZ to the Red River Delta.

 

Hobart and Perth came under fire on numerous occasions. Perth was hit once during her first deployment, while in her second deployment Hobart was hit by three missiles fired by a USAF aircraft. In their five years service in Vietnam, the four destroyers steamed over 397,000 miles and fired over 102,546 rounds.

 

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Video - HMAS PERTH 'On The Gun Line'

 

 

LOGISITC SUPPORT

 

 

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HMAS Sydney (The Vung Tau Ferry) departs Sydeny for Vung Tau

 

 

The Troop Carrier HMAS Sydney made regular voyages, escorted by RAN Destroyers, to VN carrying soldiers and military equipment for the Australian Force Vietnam from May 1965 when she conveyed the Ist Battalion Royal Australian Regiment to Vung Tau until her last voyage home in December 1972.

 

In June 1966, Sydney was supplemented by the ANL cargo ship MV Jeparit. Jeparit, commissioned into the RAN in 1969, made her last of 42 voyages to VN in February 1972. Another ANL vessel, MV Boonaroo, was commissioned in March 1967 for her second voyage to VN, having made a previous voyage in May 1966. Sydney made a total of 22 voyages.

 

FLEET AIR ARM

 

 

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Experimental Military Unit (EMU) 135th Aviation Company

 

The RAN Fleet Air Arm contributed a helicopter flight of 46 officers and sailors in 1967. In October of that year, the first contingent of RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV) joined the US Army 135th Aviation Company at Vung Tau. The flight remained in Vietnam until June 1971, when the 4th contingent returned to Australia. Fully integrated with the 135th AC, the RANHFV flew mainly in the Mekong Delta in support of ground ops. In 1968, the Fleet Air Arm also provided 8 helicopter pilots for 9 Squadron RAAF, at Vung Tau.

 

 

CLEARANCE DIVING TEAM 3

 

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Lieutenant McDonald places hose charges to clear VC log obstruction.

 

In 1966, there were two RAN clearance diving teams, both based in Sydney. One of these, Clear- ance Diving Team 1, had spent a short time in Vietnam in May of that year. In early 1967, a third team of one officer and five sailors known as Clearance Diving Team 3 (CDT3), was formed for service in Vietnam. The tour of duty was initially six and a half months, but lengthened to eight and a half months for the last two contingents. Assigned to the Vung Tau harbour defence unit, CDT3 had three main tasks. Its primary responsibility from February 1967 to August 1970 was Operation Stabledoor in the Vung Tau anchorage. A second task was the disposal of faulty and expired ordnance in the Vung Tau area, a role which later expanded as the team was called on to dispose of ordnance in Phuoc Tuy province. To assist them in this task, CDT3 members were kept informed of new types of ammunition and the disposal problems associated with them by frequent orientation courses conducted by the US Navy in Saigon. Finally, CDT3 was required to assist in salvage operations in the Coastal Zone 3 when the handling of ordnance was part of the salvage process. This particularly applied to crashed aircraft and sunken Market Time patrol craft.

 

Special Operations - An extension of CDT3's EOD role which became important from mid-July 1968 onwards was special operations in which the team accompanied Vietna-mese units and their US Navy advisers into Viet Cong-occupied areas using its demolition skills to clear canals of log barriers, and destroy tunnels and bunkers. Reconnaisance patrols and ambushes were also carried out in enemy areas. These opera-tions involved CDT3 members in penetration of the Rung Sat special zone and the coastal areas of Binh Tuy, Phuoc Tuy, Go Gong, Kien Hoa, Vinh Binh, Ba Xuyen and Bac Lieu provinces.

 

Led by Lieutenant M. I. E. Shotter, the First Contingent arrived in Vietnam on February 6, 1967, the first RAN combat unit to be sent to the Vietnam war. The Australian divers were introduced to EOD under Vietnam conditions by being initially attached to a US Navy EOD team in Saigon which was split into two-each half of the US Navy team taking three CDT3 members on a separate operation.

 

Some 2,800 naval personnel saw active service in Vietnam. Of these,
eight were killed and fifteen received serious injuries