On this day:

1976-1999 > Post Vietnam

21 Jun 1978

HMAS ADELAIDE, (guided missile frigate), was launched at Seattle, USA.

01 Jul 1978

HMAS VENDETTA, (destroyer), represented Australia at the Solomon Island Independence Day celebrations, at Honiara.

28 Jul 1978

HMAS STIRLING, (shore establishment in Western Australia), commissioned. Located at Garden Island WA,. near the town of Rockingham, the base is often referred to as Fleet Base West.

01 Oct 1978

Female Officers of the WRANS were granted equal pay with their male counterparts.

01 Dec 1978

HMAS CANBERRA, (guided missile frigate), was launched at Seattle, USA.

05 Jan 1979

HMAS HOBART, (guided missile destroyer), was dispatched on a 3000 nautical mile mercy dash to Heard Island to evacuate a seriously ill biologist.

15 Jan 1979

The RAN Staff College was officially opened at HMAS PENGUIN, Sydney, under the command of CAPT N. Ralph, AM, DSC, RAN. Prior to this all RAN officers undergoing staff training had undertaken the RN course in the United Kingdom, or other overseas courses. When the college was closed in 2000, (following creation of the Tri-Service Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra), it had trained over 1000 officers for staff duties, (including Army and RAAF officers, as well as 162 foreign students).

09 Mar 1979

The Minister for Defence, Mr. D. J. Killen, officially opened the new guided missile frigate berth at Garden Island, Sydney.

12 Apr 1979

RADM D. Leach, CBE, MVO, was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Her Majesty’s Australian Fleet.

21 Apr 1979

VADM Sir James Willis, KBE, AO, RAN, is appointed Chief of Naval Staff.

01 May 1979

The initial engagement period for General Entry Sailors was reduced from nine to six years.

04 May 1979

RAN Clearance Divers blasted a new harbour and shipping channel out of a coral reef at Noro, Solomon Islands. This was done to allow local fishermen better access to the sea.

17 Aug 1979

The Australian designed and manufactured Mulloka Sonar System, was accepted for service in the RAN

20 Aug 1979

Trials of the Australian-designed and developed Mulloka Submarine Sonar System were completed in HMAS YARRA.

23 Aug 1979

The Minister for Defence, Mr. D. J. Killen, announced the building of an underway replenishment ship for the RAN at Cockatoo Island. The ship was named HMAS SUCCESS.

31 Aug 1979

CPO Jackson, of HMAS KIMBLA, (survey vessel), was washed overboard and drowned in heavy seas, while the ship was leaving Port Philip Bay, VIC. His body was never recovered.

01 Nov 1979

The Australian 200 nautical mile fishing zone was proclaimed, greatly increasing the surveillance role of the RAN.

18 Dec 1979

Iroquois helicopters from No. 723 Squadron, and 150 personnel from RAN ships and establishments fought disastrous bushfires in the Sydney metropolitan area.

08 Jan 1980

A contingent of nine RAN officers sailed in the Antarctic relief ship NANOK S for a 40-day deployment in Australia’s Antarctic bases of Casey and Mawson.

16 Jan 1980

The keel for HMAS SYDNEY, the third guided missile frigate ordered from the USA, was laid at Seattle, USA.

19 Feb 1980

The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. M. Fraser, announced plans for increasing the size of the RAN.

29 Feb 1980

HMAS DIAMANTINA, (oceanographic research ship), and the last World War II ship in commission in the RAN, was paid off for disposal at Garden Island, Sydney.

01 Mar 1980

HMAS TOBRUK, (amphibious heavy lift ship), was launched at Newcastle, NSW.

13 Mar 1980

AB J. Stewart was lost overboard from HMAS BRISBANE, (guided missile destroyer), 120 miles north-west of Honolulu, and was picked up 12 hours later by USS JOSEPH STRAUSS. AB Stewart stayed afloat by inflating a discarded plastic garbage bag. A large shark swam around him for the last two hours of his ordeal.

15 Mar 1980

The Fremantle class patrol boat HMAS FREMANTLE, was commissioned in the United Kingdom. FREMANTLE was the first of the new class built for the RAN. The other 14 vessels were all constructed in Australia.

17 Mar 1980
  • The patrol boat HMAS FREMANTLE, (LEUT R. Thomas, RAN), the lead ship of the Fremantle class patrol boats was commissioned at Lowestoft, England.
  • A publicity hoax claiming the discovery of a missing Japanese midget submarine in Port Jackson brought complaints from Australian and Japanese authorities.

25 Mar 1980

The Minister for Defence, Mr. D. J. Killen, announced Government plans to increase the RAN’s strength in ships, weapons and establishments.

15 Apr 1980

The Minister for Defence, Mr. D. J. Killen, announced the expenditure of $1,065 million for the building of four guided missile frigates and support equipment.

06 May 1980

The first female officers of the RAN to serve at sea, embarked in the training ship HMAS JERVIS BAY.

11 May 1980

The Australian Government announced plans for the construction of a $13 million patrol base at Darwin, NT.

13 May 1980

HMA Ships VAMPIRE, (Daring class destroyer), and HMAS JERVIS BAY, (training ship), were dispatched to the area between the Solomon Islands and Fiji, to observe the test firing of China’s first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The splash-down zone was near this area.

17 May 1980

USS DIXIE, (destroyer tender), the oldest US warship on continuous active service, arrived in Sydney on a goodwill visit.

18 May 1980

China’s first Inter Continental Ballistic Missile landed in the Pacific Ocean north west of Fiji. The splashdown was observed by HMA Ships VAMPIRE, (destroyer), and JERVIS BAY, (training ship). A fleet of eighteen Chinese warships was also in the area to observe the splashdown.

19 May 1980

The rank of Provisional Warrant Officer was abolished in the RAN.

29 May 1980

Queen Elizabeth II, approved three new long service medals, (15 years service), for members of the Australian Defence Force. These were the Defence Force Service Medal, (DFSM), for all regular personnel regardless of rank; the Reserve Force Decoration, (RFD), for Reserve Force officers only; and the Reserve Force Medal, (RFM), for all other Reserve Force personnel. The first medals were issued in 1982, and replaced the National Medal, which had been the ADF Long Service Medal from 1975 until 1982. The DFSM, RFD, and RFM, were themselves replaced in 1999-2000 by the Defence Long Service Medal, (DLSM), which was for both regular and reserve personnel who had completed 15 years service.

30 May 1980

HMA Ships ATTACK, ADVANCE, and BUCCANEER, (patrol boats), commenced offshore oil rig patrols. The patrols were organized to prevent terrorist attacks on the oil rigs

05 Jun 1980

Evaluations of the US designed Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo, (for potential use in the Oberon class submarines), commenced at HMAS WATSON.

07 Jun 1980

The Minister for Defence, Mr. D. J. Killen, announced increased air and sea defence for Australia’s off-shore oilfields.

17 Jun 1980

The destroyer escort HMAS SWAN, (CMDR D. T. Read, RAN), rescued 72 Vietnamese refugees from a disabled vessel in the South China Sea.

03 Jul 1980

The first WRANS midshipmen passed out of the Royal Australian Naval College.

'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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