Aircraft Carrier HMAS Sydney

Aircraft Carrier HMAS Sydney

HMAS Sydney, the RAN’s first light fleet carrier, was accepted for service on 5 February 1949 and sailed from Devonport on April 12. She arrived in Australia in May 1949 with 805 Squadron (Sea Furies) and 816 Squadron (Fairey Fireflies). Following exercises in local waters, Sydney returned to England in July 1950 to take delivery of an additional Sea Fury and Firefly squadron.

Sydney sailed from England in October and reached her namesake port on December 8. Up to September 1951, she exercised in local waters. Ordered to Korea in that month, Sydneyrelieved HMS Glory in the war theatre. Her initial patrol, on October 4, was undertaken on the Korean west coast.

During her first tour of duty, Sydney carried out assignments including air searches for downed pilots, attacks against enemy lines of supply and communication and troop concentrations. On January 27 and in the company of TobrukSydney sailed from Japan for Australia, ending her first tour of duty. During the 64 days in the war zone, 2,336 sorties were flown, while used ammunition included 269,000 rounds of 20mm, 6,300 rocket projectiles and 902 bombs.

In March 1953, Sydney left for England for the Queen’s Coronation. She returned via the United States, Pearl Harbour and New Zealand. On October 27, she left Fremantle for her second and last tour in Korean waters. After carrying out armistice patrols, she returned to Fremantle on 2 June 1954.

Original plans made during 1954 (and later cancelled) were to give Sydney a modernisation on the same lines as the Melbourne. However, on landing her combat aircraft in May 1955, she was employed in a flying training role. Sydney paid off to special reserve on 30 May 1958. Since commissioning in 1948, she had steamed 315,958 miles.

Recommissioned on 7 March, 1962 after a limited conversion to a fast troop transport, Sydney was now manned by a crew of 607 officers and men. In August 1963 she successfully operated in her new role for the first time by landing troops, equipment and vehicles in Hervey Bay, Queensland, during Exercise Carbine. Later in May 1964 she transported a full load of Army and RAAF units and equipment to Malaysia.

Armed with only 4 x 40mm guns, she received six LCVPs (landing craft vehicle personnel) in 1969 to increase her troop and heavy equipment landing capability, and she undertook voyages into Vietnamese waters. In March 1972, she completed her last and 23rd voyage to the war zone , earning herself the nickname of Vung Tau Ferry.

On 1 November 1972, she left Sydney bound for exercises around Singapore and Jakarta. After calls at Hong Kong and Subic Bay in the Philippines, Sydney returned to Australia in the new year. Sydney was again placed in reserve in 1973, a year earlier than originally planned. She was sold for $673,516. Under tow from a Japanese tug, she left Sydney Harbour 23 December 1975.

Commissioned: 16 December 1948
Displacement: 19,996 tonnes (full load)
Length: 198 metres
Engines: Two sets Parsons single reduction geared turbines, two shafts, 42,000shp
Speed: 24 knots
Range: 7,350nm at 20 knots
Crew: 1,335
Armament: 25 x 40mm Bofors, Firefly anti-submarine aircraft, Sea Fury fighters