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
On Station - On The Gun Line
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.
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
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.
Sydney (The Vung Tau Ferry) departs Sydeny for Vung Tau
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
Military Unit (EMU) 135th Aviation Company
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.
DIVING TEAM 3
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.
- 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.
2,800 naval personnel saw active service in Vietnam. Of these,
eight were killed and fifteen received serious injuries