On this day:

1976-1999 > Post Vietnam

19 Sep 1968

HMAS PERTH, (guided missile destroyer), was dispatched to Vietnam to relieve her sister ship HMAS HOBART, which had been damaged by US aircraft missiles.

09 Feb 1976

The Australian Naval Board flag was lowered for the last time. The flag’s design dated back to the 17th century.

The Defence Reorganisation Act gave the Chiefs of Staff direct control over their respective services.

18 Feb 1976

The Minister for Defence, Mr. D. J. Killen, announced the Australian Government’s decision to purchase two guided missile frigates from the USA.

08 Jun 1976

The RAN Support Element, Singapore, was formed. Known as RANLO, Singapore, the unit is responsible for logistics support to RAN ships and units visiting Singapore, and operating in the wider South East Asian area. RANLO Singapore is the oldest continuously operating overseas RAN support unit.

01 Jul 1976

Royal Australian Naval House, ‘Johnnie’s’, was handed back to the NSW Government.

15 Jul 1976

HMAS YARRA, (destroyer escort), located the disabled yacht MARQUEEN in heavy seas off the Queensland coast. The yacht was towed to Trial Bay, NSW.

17 Jul 1976

HMAS PARRAMATTA, (destroyer escort), arrived at Bali to assist the earthquake-devastated island. 500 people were killed and 2500 injured in the catastrophe.

24 Jul 1976

The Japanese cargo ship BLUE ANDROMEDA, struck HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), in Sydney Harbour. Damage was minor.

27 Jul 1976

HMAS HOBART, (guided missile destroyer), arrived at Naples. HOBART was the first RAN vessel to visit Italy in 20 years, and the first Australian warship to pass through the Suez Canal in 14 years.

16 Aug 1976

HMA Ships MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), and TORRENS, (destroyer escort), rendered aid to the disabled motor vessel MISS CHIEF, in heavy seas off Bundaberg, QLD. TORRENS took the vessel in tow until a tug arrived.

19 Aug 1976
  • HMNZS INVERELL, (ex HMAS INVERELL), and HMNZS KIAMA, (EX-HMAS KIAMA), were paid off for disposal at Auckland. The minesweepers were transferred to New Zealand in 1946.
  • CDRE J. Britten, RAN, retired from the RAN after holding all ranks from ordinary Seaman 2nd Class, to Commodore.

27 Aug 1976

First Officer J. Baker, WRANS, became the first officer of the WRANS to be selected for the Royal Naval Staff College course at Greenwich, England.

03 Sep 1976

HMAS HOBART, (guided missile destroyer), arrived in Sydney, after completing the first circumnavigation of the world, (since a similar voyage in 1952), by a ship of the RAN. HOBART showed the Australian flag in 19 ports and 12 countries.

08 Nov 1976

HMAS STUART, (destroyer escort), was dispatched to rescue survivors from the oil exploration barge PERENTIE. Two of the barge’s crew of five were picked up.

23 Nov 1976

VADM Sir Anthony Synnot is appointed Chief of Naval Staff.

05 Dec 1976

Twelve of the RAN’s Tracker anti-submarine aircraft were destroyed in a disastrous fire at HMAS ALBATROSS, Nowra, NSW. The combined strength of Fleet Air Arm Squadrons 816 and 851 was reduced to one serviceable Tracker.

07 Dec 1976

HMAS ASSAIL, (patrol boat), surveyed the Alligator River, NT.

09 Dec 1976

HMAS DOOMBA, (minesweeper), was scuttled off Dee Why, NSW. DOOMBA had been built in 1919, and commissioned as HMS WEXFORD, but was sold in 1921 to the Doomba Shipping Company based in Brisbane. In 1939, on 3 September she was requisitioned by the RAN, to become an auxiliary minesweeper, and commissioned as HMAS DOOMBA. She later became an anti-submarine escort, before being paid off from the RAN in February 1947, and converted into a lighter.

16 Jan 1977

The Minister for Defence, Mr D J Killen, announced the purchase of the roll-on, roll-off vehicular/passenger ship AUSTRALIAN TRADER for conversion to a training ship for the RAN. The ship was commissioned as HMAS JERVIS BAY.

07 Apr 1977

HMAS DERWENT, (destroyer escort), rendered aid to the disabled World War II landing ship, MV VALASNA, 40 miles east of Singapore.

15 Apr 1977

RADM N. E. McDonald was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Her Majesty’s Australian Fleet.

02 May 1977

HMAS SWAN, (destroyer escort), was dispatched to render aid to an injured seaman in the US merchant ship AUSTRAL MOON, in the Tasman Sea.

09 May 1977

During exercises in the Indian Ocean, a Sea King helicopter from HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), crashed into the ocean. None of the crew were injured, and they were quickly rescued by HMAS BRISBANE, (destroyer), which was in company with MELBOURNE.

10 May 1977

HMAS VENDETTA, (Daring class destroyer), made a high-speed dash to provide aid for 28 Vietnamese refugees, in a disabled vessel, drifting in the South China Sea.

25 May 1977

A Tracker aircraft from HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), located the disabled Dutch ship IMPALA PRINCESS, in the Gulf of Aden, and directed a French destroyer to her assistance.

11 Jun 1977

HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), launched two of her Wessex helicopters, each carrying a World War II cannon, from a position off Crete, and delivered the pieces to the newly built Cretan-Australian War Memorial at Stavromenos. Fifteen minutes later the helicopters returned with a section of the, band which played the National Anthems of both nations.

15 Jun 1977

The Oberon class submarine, HMAS ORION, was commissioned. ORION was laid down in Scott’s Yard, Greenock, Scotland, on 6 October 1972, and was launched on 16 September 1974. Mrs Armstrong, (Wife of the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom), performed the launching ceremony.

28 Jun 1977

HMA Ships MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier), and BRISBANE, (guided missile destroyer), represented Australia at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Naval Review, at Spithead England. MELBOURNE was the oldest, and the largest ship at the Review. The youngest was the Greek missile launcher, LIEUTENANT TROUPAKIS.

30 Jun 1977

A Harrier G-VTOL aircraft was flown for the first time from HMAS MELBOURNE, (aircraft carrier).

15 Jul 1977

HMAS MORESBY, (survey ship), went to the aid of a refugee vessel with 47 Vietnamese men, women and children aboard off the West Australian coast. A boarding party from MORESBY repaired the vessel’s engine, and it steamed safely to Broome.

27 Jul 1977

HMAS ADROIT, (patrol boat), arrested her third Taiwanese vessel illegally fishing in Australian waters in the month of July. ADROIT was operating with Pabron Three.

17 Aug 1977

Legislation for the proclamation of a 200 mile Australian fishing zone was examined by the Australian Government.

25 Aug 1977

HMAS JERVIS BAY, (ex-merchant vessel AUSTRALIAN TRADER), was commissioned as a training ship.

27 Aug 1977

HMAS COOK, (oceanographic ship), was launched by Mrs. Joyce Killen, wife of the Minister for Defence, at Williamstown, VIC.

24 Oct 1977

HMAS DUCHESS, (Daring class destroyer), was decommissioned. DUCHESS had been loaned to the RAN in 1964, as a replacement for the destroyer HMAS VOYAGER. This loan was later extended, and she was purchased outright by the RAN in 1972. In 1973 she commenced an 18-month conversion to a training ship, but saw only three years service before being paid off.

02 Dec 1977

AB R. A. McLeod, RAN, was awarded the Australian Bravery Medal for the rescue of five members of the crew of HMAS ARROW, (patrol boat), which sank in Darwin Harbour during Cyclone Tracy, on Christmas morning, 1974.

AB McLeod was injured himself at the time of the rescues.

16 Dec 1977

HMA Ships BRUNEI, LABUAN, and WEWAK, (landing craft heavy), broke adrift in the Brisbane River during a violent tropical storm. The ships were saved from serious damage, and possible loss, by the ‘exceptional initiative, courage and seamanship’ of CPOMTP(D) W. Lehane and POCOX J. Edwards. Both men were awarded the BEM for their actions.

21 Apr 1978

CDRE Sir James Ramsay, became the first officer of the RAN to be knighted twice. CDRE Ramsay, a Knight Bachelor and Governor of WA, was created a KCMG.

27 Apr 1978

The Oberon class submarine HMAS OTAMA, was commissioned. OTAMA was laid down at Scott’s Yard, Greenock, Scotland, on 28 May 1973, and launched on 3 December 1975. HRH Princess Anne performed the launching ceremony. OTAMA was the last of six Oberon class submarines built for the RAN.

08 May 1978

RADM G. J. Willis, AO, was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Her Majesty’s Australian Fleet.

'On This Day' is based on the book "Navy Day by Day: Historic Naval Events in Australia and Abroad" written by the late Lew Lind. More information.

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