Today marks 58 years since HMAS Sydney’s (III) first journey to Vietnam, the first of many voyages to transport thousands of troops, cargo and equipment during the Vietnam War.
The first voyage carried army and navy personnel, some 347 officers and men of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.
Escorted by HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Duchess and HMAS Parramatta, this was the first of 25 trips for Sydney, responsible for moving, supplying and maintaining Australian forces in Vietnam. Anchoring off Vung Tau for loading and unloading, she was nicknamed the ‘Vung Tau Ferry’.
On arrival in Vung Tau, HMAS Sydney (III) and her escort ships were prepared to counter any attacks from shore. Divers checked hulls and cables while armed sentries kept guard on deck.
By the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, HMAS Sydney (III) had safely transported some 16,000 army and RAAF personnel plus thousands of tonnes of cargo and equipment from Australia to Vietnam, and back again.
Minister for Veterans Affairs’ Matt Keogh paid tribute to those who served.
“Today we say thank you to the officers and crew who served on the HMAS Sydney (III) and honour all those who served our nation during the Vietnam War,” Minister Keogh said.
Throughout 2023, the Australian Government is recognising the contribution of Vietnam veterans, their service in Vietnam and their role as integral members of the ex-service community in the decades since the war.
On Vietnam Veterans’ Day, 18 August 2023, a national commemorative service will be held in Canberra to recognise the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.