Australia and the Vietnam War

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Royal Australian Navy (RAN)

Overview

HMAS Hobart with the US Seventh Fleet off Vietnam, 1968. Bruce Honisett, 1985. [Oil on canvas 121.6 x 182.5 cm, AWM ART45009]

HMAS Hobart with the US Seventh Fleet off Vietnam, 1968. Bruce Honisett, 1985. [Oil on canvas 121.6 x 182.5 cm, AWM ART45009]

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) played a variety of roles during the Vietnam War. Australian naval vessels ferried troops to and from the logistics base at Vung Tau and served on the ‘gunline’ where they provided naval gunfire against ground targets in support of Australian and United States troops. RAN clearance divers carried out operations to dispose of unexploded ordnance and keep shipping safe from enemy mines and attacks by enemy frogmen. Naval personnel also served in an airborne role, the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam, attached to the United States Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company, flew combat operations and a detachment of naval aviators also served with the RAAF’s No. 9 Squadron.

Vung Tau Ferry

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By 1972, when Australia’s involvement in Vietnam ended, HMAS Sydney (the ‘Vung Tau Ferry’) 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. Sydney’s efforts were complemented by the Jeparit and Boonaroo. more…

On the Gunline – Destroyers

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Australia’s largest naval commitment to the Vietnam War was the provision of destroyers, on rotation, to serve on the ‘gunline’ – delivering naval gunfire support for ground forces – with the US 7th Fleet. more…

Clearance Divers

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The task that faced the Australian Naval Clearance Diving teams in Vietnam was complex and dangerous. The country’s long coast and many rivers, and the large Mekong Delta near Saigon gave the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong many opportunities to attack and disrupt shipping with mines and underwater obstacles. more…

Helicopter Flight

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Helicopter crews flew daily missions and combat assaults that left crews and maintenance personnel exhausted. Aircrew would rise at 4.30 am and, not infrequently, have twelve hours of flying, including dropping troops into, or extracting them from, extremely dangerous landing sites. more…

9 Sqn RAAF detachment

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Already heavily committed in Vietnam, Malaysia and at home, the RAAF was short of trained aircrew. The RAN was approached to help temporarily by providing pilots, eight of whom joined the squadron in 1968. more…


Video Icon

View video of Interview 1 Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class (ERA 2) Robert Lake, RAN Australians at War Film Archive, Interview No.1363

Video Icon

View video of Interview 6 John O'Callaghan, Australians at War Film Archive, Interview No.0673