- Kelly, Michael J
- Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Hobart I, HMAS Brisbane II, HMAS Perth II
- March 1980 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
HMAS Perth returned to Vung Tau on the 21st December and fired on Viet Cong artillery bunkers in the Long Hai Hills upon her arrival. The following day she carried out H and I firings from Vung Tau harbour. On completion she left for Hong Kong where she was visited by the Minister for the Navy, Mr. D. J. Killen, MHR.
After her short stay in this port, Perth joined the destroyer screen of the USS Hancock (CVA 19) for a seven day deployment on Yankee Station. On completion of this attachment she sailed south to the gunline in Military Region 4. On 17th January 1971 Perth anchored off the southern coast of An Xuyen near Tan An and fired on a Viet Cong ambush site. On completion she sailed to the west coast of Kien Giang and took up station near Hon Rai Island. She remained in this area until 2nd February carrying out air-spotted H and I firings on suspected Viet Cong positions. In this operation she was in support of the 21st AVRN Division.
During her patrols off U Minh on 1st February, a fishing boat was seen trying to attract her attention. This boat held more than the normal crew, and so Perth closed up a boarding party and approached the vessel with her siren sounding. Seven personnel raised their arms in surrender. Each man was stripped and searched as he was brought aboard and the fishing vessel was searched for hidden explosives. After interrogation it was found that the boat had been hailed from the shore on the previous night by the group of Hoi Chanh (Viet Cong defecting to the South Vietnamese Government) who wished to be taken to a suitable place for surrender. Perth took her captives to the Market Time coastal zone headquarters at An Thoi on Phu Quoc Island. Here the Perth transferred the Hoi Chanh to a VNN patrol boat.
HMAS Perth then sailed for Bangkok in Thailand and arrived there on 3rd February for four days’ rest and recreation for the crew. From here the Perth sailed for Subic Bay for a six day maintenance period.
The ‘Fighting Lady’ (as she was also nicknamed) returned to Vietnam on 22nd February. She was now on station in Military Region 2 where she was to bombard hillside landing sites in the southern end of her sector. These landing sites were in preparation for a helicopter assault by Korean troops.
On this same day Perth was ordered to sail to Military Region 3 to support the 1st Australian Task Force. The Perth attacked enemy assembly areas near the Task Force base at Nui Dat. Buildings, wells, boats and bridges were destroyed by her gunfire along the coast of Phuoc Tuy.
On 25th February Perth received another official guest in the form of Vice Admiral R. I. Peek, CB, OBE, DSC, Chief of Naval Staff. He stayed on board overnight.
For a short time the Perth patrolled off the southern end of Military Region 2 carrying out her routine H and I firings. From here she joined the carrier USS Ranger (CVA 61) on 7th March as the command ship of its destroyer screen. During this attachment air strikes were launched against North Vietnamese troops in Laos. On 10th March Perth detached from Ranger to take up similar duties with the USS Kittyhawk.
After a short patrol Perth sailed for Hong Kong and Kao-Hsiung, Taiwan, for a rest and recreation visit for the crew. Perth then sailed for Subic Bay, arriving there on 24th March. HMAS Brisbane was to relieve her of her duties there, and on 29th March ‘The Weight’ was transferred to Captain R. G. Loosli of the Brisbane in the presence of the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr. J. C. Ingram.
HMAS Perth left Subic Bay on 30th March and arrived in Sydney on 8th April 1971. This was the third and last deployment of HMAS Perth in Vietnam waters and she had made quite a name for herself. Many of her crew were mentioned in despatches, and on her first two deployments received the US Navy Unit Commendation awarded by the Government of the United States of America.
This ship, ‘The Fighting Lady’, will long be remembered by her Allies for her gallant duties and daring exploits on the gunline in the waters of Vietnam.
Action is what is needed in a war zone, and it was action that was had by HMAS Perth on this last deployment as can be shown by her expenditure of ammunition and fuel. On this trip she fired 9,712 rounds of five-inch shells along with an ungiven amount of small arms ammunition, and she steamed over 40,000 nautical miles to carry out her duties as a Naval Gunfire Support Ship of the Royal Australian Navy.
Deployments of HMAS Perth in Vietnam.
1st Deployment: 14th September 1976 – 31st March 1968.
2nd Deployment: 30th September 1968 – 30th March 1969.
3rd Deployment: 28th September 1970 – 29th March 1971.
For her commendable service with the US Seventh Fleet HMAS Perth was awarded on two occasions the US Navy Unit Commendation. This commendation is for meritorious service against the enemy not involving combat, but in support of military operations.
The Commendations read as follows:-
The Secretary of the Navy, Washington
The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in commending
HMAS Perth (D-38)
for service as set forth in the following Citation:
For exceptionally meritorious service from 9 September 1967 to 5 April 1968 in the planning and execution of combat missions against enemy aggressor forces in direct support of Free World objectives. While operating as a unit of the US Seventh Fleet, HMAS Perth delivered extensive, destructive naval gunfire against enemy supply routes, coastal defence sites, troop concentrations, and fortified positions in both North and South Vietnam. The prowess and teamwork displayed by the personnel of Perth were uniformly characterized by personal valor, professional acumen, and individual initiative. Although often within the range of enemy artillery emplacements, and frequently under fire from North Vietnamese coastal defence sites, Perth quickly responded with skill and resourcefulness, silencing enemy batteries while maneuvering adroitly to avoid sustaining any damage or injury to herself. The tenacity, professionalism, and dedication demonstrated by the officers and the men of Perth reflect great credit upon themselves and the Royal Australian Navy.
(Signed) Paul R. Ignatius
Secretary of the Navy