On a New Bearing: the Reorganized Royal Australian Navy at War in Vietnam

By Steven Paget, published August 2015


The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) made a modest but important commitment of a single destroyer to the Vietnam War on a rotational basis between March 1967 and September 1971. The contrast between the deployments of the American-designed and built Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers and the British-designed Daring class destroyer, HMAS Vendetta, represented the fruition of a small navy being pulled in two different directions. The RAN was undergoing a transitional period, which saw the service increasingly align with the United States Navy. This was a monumental shift in policy, as the Royal Navy had provided a model for the RAN to emulate since its creation in 1911. The Vietnam War offered a clear test of standardization and demonstrated that common ship designs provided a platform for interoperability, but did not guarantee it. The Australian ships were able to make a worthwhile contribution to a predominantly American naval effort, but they faced a number of challenges in achieving interoperability. The basis for successful co-operation was provided by the existence of common procedures and standardized equipment, but was necessarily supplemented by ad hoc measures and impromptu workarounds.

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Filed under: Post WW2 | Pacific
Subjects include: Navies | Shipbuilding & Design | Strategy & Diplomacy

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