Perth-class destroyer

The Perth-class destroyers were three modified Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyers operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Ordered from Defoe Shipbuilding Company during 1962 and 1963, HMA Ships Perth, Hobart, and Brisbane were the first guided missiled-armed warships, and the first naval ships of United States design, to enter service with the RAN. All three ships operated during the Vietnam War, while Brisbane also participated in the Gulf War. The class was decommissioned between 1999 and 2001, with all three vessels later sunk as dive wrecks.

HMAS Perth at sea in 1980
HMAS Perth at sea in 1980
Class overview
Name: Perth class
Builders: Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, Michigan
Operators:  Royal Australian Navy
Preceded by: Daring class
Succeeded by: Hobart class
Subclasses: Charles F. Adams class (parent)
In commission: 1965–2001
Completed: 3
Preserved: 3 (as dive wrecks)
General characteristics
Type: Guided missile destroyer
  • 3,370 tons standard
  • 4,500 tons full load (at launch)
  • 4,618 tons full load (in 1998)
Beam: 47.1 ft (14.4 m)
Draught: 20.1 ft (6.1 m)
  • 4 × Foster Wheeler D-type boilers
  • 2 × General Electric double reduction steam turbines
  • 70,000 shp (52,000 kW)
  • 2 shafts
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)
  • 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
  • 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km; 2,300 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
  • 21 officers, 312 sailors (at launch)
  • 25 officers, 285 sailors (in 1998)
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Hughes SPS-52C air search radar
  • Norden SPS-40C air search radar
  • Norden SPS-67V surface search radar
  • 2 × Raytheon SPG-516 fire control radars (Mark 13 launcher)
  • Western Electric SPG-53F fire control radar (5-inch guns)
  • Sangamo SQS-23KL hull-mounted sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 2 × SRBOC Mark 36 units
  • Nulka decoy launcher
  • AN/SLQ-25 towed decoy

Design and construction

During the late 1950s, the RAN announced a requirement for guided missile-armed warships; along with plans to install guided missiles aboard currently active escort vessels, plans were made to acquire two purpose-built destroyers.[1] Although traditionally, Australian warships were based on British designs, the RAN chose to study the United States Navy's Charles F. Adams class along with the Royal Navy's County class.[1] The American design was favoured because the Tartar missile carried was seen as the missile body the USN would standardize on for future AA missile development while the British Sea Slug was an interim and dated system. There were risks in operating American-designed vessels for a navy using predominately British-designed ships,however the County class DDG used much unproven technology and was rather too large to fit a medium navy and the RAN proposed fitting the Tartar to County-class vessels. However, another RAN proposal – to redesign the County's standard combined steam and gas propulsion system as a purely steam-powered system – was knocked back by the British.[2] The US destroyer was a more proven design which often an essential need for the RAN to have a powerful AA and GP character with the planned phase out of HMAS Melbourne as a strike carrier in 1963.[3]

In 1960, the decision was made to instead acquire Charles F. Adams-class ships, and on 6 January 1962, two destroyers of a slightly modified design were ordered from Defoe Shipbuilding Company of Bay City, Michigan.[4][5] Plans to refit Tartar missiles to the Battle and Daring classes were later cancelled because of cost, and on 22 January 1963, a third destroyer was ordered from Defoe.[4][6] The Australian ships were referred to as the Perth class after lead ship HMAS Perth; the other two destroyers were HMA Ships Hobart and Brisbane.[4] Thought was given to acquiring a fourth ship of the class, but this did not go ahead.[6]

At launch, the destroyers had a standard displacement of 3,370 tons, and a full load displacement of 4,500 tons, although by 1998, various modifications and modernisations had increased the ship's full load displacement to 4,618 tons.[5][7] Each ship was 440.8 feet (134.4 m) long at the waterline, 437 feet (133 m) long overall, had a beam of 47.1 feet (14.4 m), and a draught of 20.1 feet (6.1 m).[7][5] The propulsion system consisted of four Foster Wheeler D-type boilers connected to two General Electric double reduction steam turbines; these provided 70,000 shaft horsepower (52,000 kW) to the two propeller shafts, allowing them to reach speeds of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph).[5] Maximum range was 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), or 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km; 2,300 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph).[7] The standard ship's company at launch consisted of 21 officers and 312 sailors.[5]

Construction of lead ship Perth commenced when she was laid down on 21 September 1962.[5] Perth was launched on 26 September 1963, completed on 22 May 1965, and commissioned into the RAN on 17 July 1965.[5] Hobart was laid down a month after Perth on 26 October 1962, with launching on 9 January 1964, and completion on 18 December 1965, two days after she was commissioned into the RAN.[5] Work on Brisbane did not start until 15 February 1965, with the destroyer launched on 5 May 1966, commissioned on 16 December 1967, but not completed until 24 January 1968.[5][7] Construction and acquisition of the Perth class included many firsts for the RAN: they were the first ships to be armed with guided missiles, the first to be designed and built in the United States, and the first to be launched sideways instead of stern-first.[4] During construction, the ships were respectively identified with the United States Navy hull numbers DDG-25, DDG-26, and DDG-27.[8]

Armament and sensors

As a guided-missile destroyer, the primary armament of the Perth-class ships at launch was of a Mark 13 missile launcher for Tartar anti-aircraft missiles.[5] This was supplemented by two 5-inch/54 calibre Mark 42 guns in two single turrets, two Ikara anti-submarine missile systems (although the actual launchers were not installed until the late 1960s), and two Mark 32 triple-tube torpedo sets for Mark 46 torpedoes.[7][4] The main differences between the Perth class and the parent design related to the weapons systems: a large deckhouse was added between the two funnels to house the two Ikara launchers and their magazines, and the Mark 13 single-arm launcher was fitted instead of the Mark 11 twin-arm launcher.[4]

During the ships' careers, the Tartar missiles were replaced by the Standard missile, and the launchers were updated to fire the Harpoon missile, although Harpoon missiles were not carried by the Perths, and the modification was intended as a "for but not with" fitting.[7] During 1990 and 1991, the three ships were modified to carry two Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapons systems; Phalanx units were stored in a common pool, and were only fitted to the ships as required.[7] Around the same time as the Phalanx installation, the Ikara launchers and magazines were removed.[7] As a result, the magazine spaces were converted into accommodation and recreation areas, and the ship's company was reduced from 332 to 310, although the number of officers had increased by this point from 21 to 25.[7]

In 1998, near the end of the ships' careers, the radar suite consisted of a Hughes SPS-52C air search radar, a Norden SPS-40C air search radar, a Norden SPS-67V surface search radar, two Raytheon SPG-51G fire control radars for the Mark 13 launcher, and a Western Electric SPG-53F fire control radar for the 5-inch guns.[7] A Sangamo SQS-23KL hull-mounted sonar was fitted in the bow.[7] Countermeasures included two SRBOC Mark 36 units, a Nulka decoy launcher, and an AN/SLQ-25 towed decoy.[7]

Operational history

Between 1967 and 1971, all three destroyers were rotated through deployments to the Vietnam War: Perth and Hobart deployed three times, while Brisbane only undertook two tours.[4] During these deployments, the destroyers were integrated into the United States Seventh Fleet.[4] The three ships operated primarily in the naval gunfire support role, but also performed screening escort for the American aircraft carriers, and were involved in the Market Time and Sea Dragon operations, both of which aimed to prevent North Vietnamese troop and supply movements by sea.[9][10] During these deployments, Perth was damaged by North Vietnamese shells in October 1967, and Hobart was accidentally attacked by United States Air Force aircraft in June 1968.[9]

In 1971, all three ships were marked for modernisation, primarily involving updates to the missile and gunnery systems, along with the installation of the Naval Combat Data System (an derivative of the United States Navy's Naval Tactical Data System modified for the Perths).[4][11] Hobart was refitted in San Francisco during 1972, but instead of following through on plans to update all three ships in American shipyards, the RAN decided to upgrade the other two destroyers at Garden Island instead to give the dockyard experience in refitting the destroyers.[4][11]

From 1974 to the start of 1975, Hobart underwent a second modernisation, this time involving the fitting of a new combat system, updates to the radar suite, and modification of the Mark 13 launcher to fire Standard missiles.[4] The same upgrades were made to the other two ships at Garden Island between 1977 and 1979.[4]

During the early-to-mid 1980s, the destroyers, along with Adelaide-class frigates, were regularly deployed to the Indian Ocean.[12] Maintaining a constant naval presence in the Indian Ocean was a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, along with the growing presence of Soviet warships.[12]

HMAS Hobart (D39)
Hobart underway in 1992

The ships were modernised a third time between 1987 and 1991.[7] During this upgrade, the radar and gun systems were updated, and the Mark 13 launcher was modified to fire Harpoon missiles.[7]

Brisbane served as part of the RAN commitment to the Gulf War during 1990 and 1991.[9]

HMAS Perth (D38) and HMAS Brisbane (D41)
Perth and Brisbane in 1995

In late 1993, USS Goldsborough, a former Charles F. Adams-class destroyer, was acquired by the RAN for use as a parts hulk to support the three Perth-class vessels.[13] After arriving in Sydney in 1994, a four-man team was assigned to identify and remove equipment from the ship.[13] These were primarily used to maintain the three destroyers, although some components were fitted to the Adelaide-class guided missile frigates, or installed at training facilities.[13] While being stripped, the team painted the number 40 on Goldsborough's bow, filling the gap in the pennant number sequence of the Perths.[13] By August 1994, the ship had been stripped of usable equipment, and the hulk was sold to an Indian company for ship breaking.[13]

Decommissioning and replacement

All three ships were decommissioned between 1999 and 2001.[14] Following their withdrawal from service, they were all sunk as dive wrecks in Australian waters: Perth off Albany, Western Australia, Hobart off Yankalilla, South Australia, and Brisbane off Mooloolaba, Queensland.[9][13] Before being scuttled, Brisbane's bridge and forward 5-inch gun were removed from the destroyer; these were installed at the Australian War Memorial in 2007 as part of the "Conflicts 1945 to Today" gallery.[9]

HMAS Brisbane AWM Nov 08
The bridge and forward gun turret of Brisbane on display at the Australian War Memorial

There was no direct replacement of the Perth class following their withdrawal from service, with the area air defence role instead taken by the Adelaide-class guided missile frigates (which at the time, only had the capability to defend themselves, not other ships).[15][16] Four of the six Adelaide class, were upgraded as a makeshift gap-filler, while the two oldest Adelaides were decommissioned to offset the cost.[15][17] Fleet anti-air defence will remain at a reduced capability until the entry into service of the three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers.[18] HMAS Hobart was commissioned on 23 September 2017.


Name[5] Pennant[5] Builder[5] Laid down[5] Launched[5] Completed[5] Commissioned[7] Decommissioned Fate[9][13]
Perth D 38 Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, Michigan 21 September 1962 28 September 1963 22 May 1965 17 July 1965 15 October 1999 Sunk as dive wreck off the coast of Albany, Western Australia
Hobart D 39 26 October 1962 9 January 1964 18 December 1965 18 December 1965 12 May 2000 Sunk as dive wreck off the coast of Yankalilla, South Australia
Brisbane D 41 15 February 1965 5 May 1966 24 January 1968 16 December 1967 19 October 2001 Sunk as dive wreck off the coast of Mooloolaba, Queensland


  1. ^ a b Cooper, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 190
  2. ^ Cooper, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, pp. 190–1
  3. ^ P. Jones. Buying the DDG in Goldrick, Jones and Frame. Reflections on the RAN , p329 and Jones and Frame. Seapower 2000 Paper RAN AA missile evolution
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946, p. 66
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Blackman (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1968–69, p. 13
  6. ^ a b Cooper, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 192
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Sharpe (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1998–99, p. 24
  8. ^ Sea Power Centre-Australia, AWD, Hobart, MFU or DDGH – What's in a name?
  9. ^ a b c d e f Dennis et al., The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, p. 127
  10. ^ Frame, No Pleasure Cruise, pp. 232–3
  11. ^ a b Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 219
  12. ^ a b Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 229
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Final Disposition". USS Goldsborough (DDG 20) Association. 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  14. ^ Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 272
  15. ^ a b Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, pp. 272–3
  16. ^ Oldham (ed.), 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy, p. 104
  17. ^ Oldham (ed.), 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy, pp. 104–5
  18. ^ Oldham (ed.), 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy, p. 105


  • Blackman, Raymond, ed. (1968). Jane's Fighting Ships 1968–69 (71st ed.). London: Jane's Publishing Company. OCLC 123786869.
  • Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2. OCLC 271822831.
  • Frame, Tom (2004). No Pleasure Cruise: the story of the Royal Australian Navy. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-233-4. OCLC 55980812.
  • Gillett, Ross (1988). Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946. Brookvale, NSW: Child & Associates. ISBN 0-86777-219-0. OCLC 23470364.
  • Oldham, Charles, ed. (2011). "The Fleet". 100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy. Bondi Junction, NSW: Faircount Media Group. OCLC 741711418. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  • Sharpe, Richard, ed. (1998). Jane's Fighting Ships 1998–99 (101st ed.). Coulsdon, Surrey: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0-7106-1795-X. OCLC 39372676.
  • Stevens, David, ed. (2001). The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence. III. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-555542-2. OCLC 50418095.
    • Cooper, Alastair. "The Era of Forward Defence". The Royal Australian Navy.
    • Jones, Peter. "Towards Self Reliance"; "A Period of Change and Uncertainty". The Royal Australian Navy.
Journal articles
5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun

The Mark 42 5"/54 caliber gun (127mm) is a naval gun (naval artillery) mount used by the United States Navy and other countries. It consisted of the Mark 18 gun and Mark 42 gun mount. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fires a projectile 5 inches (127.0 mm) in diameter, and the barrel is 54 calibers long (barrel length is 5" × 54 = 270" or 6.9 meters.) In the 1950s a gun with more range and a faster rate of fire than the 5"/38 caliber gun used in World War II was needed, therefore, the gun was created concurrently with the 3"/70 Mark 26 gun for different usages. The 5"/54 Mk 42 is an automatic, dual-purpose (air / surface target) gun mount. It is usually controlled remotely from the Mk 68 Gun Fire Control System, or locally from the mount at the One Man Control (OMC) station.The self-loading gun mount weighs about 60.4 long tons (61.4 t) including two drums under the mount holding 40 rounds of semi-fixed case type ammunition. The gun fires 31.75 kg (70.0 lb) projectiles at a velocity of 2,650 ft/s (807.7 m/s). Maximum rate of fire is 40 rounds per minute. Magazine capacity is 599 rounds per mount. The Mark 42 mount originally was equipped for two on-mount gunners, one surface and one antiaircraft, but the antiaircraft gunner position was scrapped later on when the increasing speed of naval aircraft made manual aiming of antiaircraft weapons impractical. The Mark 45 lightweight (22.1 long tons (22.5 t)) gun mount began replacing the Mk 42 mount in 1971 for easier maintenance and improved reliability in new naval construction for the United States Navy.

Gloucester Cup

The Gloucester Cup is the common name for three awards of the Australian Defence Force. Formally referred to as the Duke of Gloucester Cup, the three awards are presented to the most efficient infantry battalion of the Australian Army, ship of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the previous year. The awards were created by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in 1946, while he was serving as the Governor-General of Australia, and were first presented in 1947.

Guided missile destroyer

A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.

In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03)

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) was an Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The frigate was one of six modified Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates ordered from 1977 onwards, and the third of four to be constructed in the United States of America. Laid down and launched in 1980, Sydney was named for the capital city of New South Wales, and commissioned into the RAN in 1983.

During her operational history, Sydney has been involved in Australian responses to the 1987 Fijian coups d'état and the Bougainville uprising. The frigate was deployed to the Persian Gulf on five occasions in support of United States operations during the Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and has completed two round-the-world voyages.

Sydney was originally expected to remain in service until 2013, but was retained in service until 2015; ceasing active deployments on 27 February and serving as a moored training ship until her decommissioning on 7 November. The frigate will be replaced in service by a Hobart-class destroyer.

Hobart-class destroyer

The Hobart class is a ship class of three air warfare destroyers (AWDs) being built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Planning for ships to replace the Adelaide-class frigates and restore the capability last exhibited by the Perth-class destroyers began by 2000, initially under acquisition project SEA 1400, which was re-designated SEA 4000. Although the designation "Air Warfare Destroyer" is used to describe ships dedicated to the defence of a naval force (plus assets ashore) from aircraft and missile attack, the planned Australian destroyers are expected to also operate in anti-surface, anti-submarine, and naval gunfire support roles.

Planning for the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer (as the class was known until 2006) continued through the mid-2000s, with the selection of the Aegis combat system as the intended combat system and ASC as the primary shipbuilder in 2005. In late 2005, the AWD Alliance was formed as a consortium of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), ASC, and Raytheon. Between 2005 and 2007, Gibbs & Cox's Evolved Arleigh Burke-class destroyer concept and Navantia's Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate competed for selection as the AWD design. Although the Arleigh Burke design was larger and more capable, the Álvaro de Bazán design was selected in June 2007 as it was an existing design, and would be cheaper, quicker, and less risky to build.

Three ships were ordered in October 2007, and will be assembled at ASC's facility in Osborne, South Australia, from 31 pre-fabricated modules (or 'blocks'). An option to build a fourth destroyer was included in the original contract, but has not been exercised. ASC, NQEA Australia, and the Forgacs Group were selected in May 2009 to build the blocks, but within two months, NQEA was replaced by BAE Systems Australia. Construction errors and growing delays led the AWD Alliance to redistribute the construction workload in 2011, with some modules to be built by Navantia. Increasing slippage has pushed the original planned 2014-2016 commissioning dates out by at least three years, with lead ship Hobart to be completed by June 2017, Brisbane in September 2018, and Sydney by March 2020. The AWD Alliance, Navantia, and the involved shipyards have been criticised for underestimating risks, costs, and timeframes; faulty drawings and bad building practices leading to repeated manufacturing errors; and blame-passing. The alliance concept has been panned for having no clear management structure or entity in charge, and having the DMO simultaneously acting as supplier, build partner, and customer for the ships.

List of ship decommissionings in 1999

The list of ship decommissionings in 1999 includes a chronological list of all ships decommissioned in 1999.

List of ship decommissionings in 2000

This is a chronological list of ship commissionings in 2000.

List of ship decommissionings in 2001

The list of ship decommissionings in 2001 includes a chronological list of all ships decommissioned in 2001.

List of ship launches in 1963

The list of ship launches in 1963 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 1963.

List of ship launches in 1964

The list of ship launches in 1964 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 1964.

List of ship launches in 1966

The list of ship launches in 1966 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 1966.

RIM-24 Tartar

The General Dynamics RIM-24 Tartar was a medium-range naval surface-to-air missile (SAM), and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. The Tartar was the third of the so-called "3 T's", the three primary SAMs the Navy fielded in the 1960s and 1970s, the others being the RIM-2 Terrier and RIM-8 Talos.

Perth-class destroyers
 United States Navy
 Royal Australian Navy
Perth class
 German Navy
Lütjens class
 Hellenic Navy
Kimon class


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