Author Topic: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney)  (Read 12016 times)

Offline Tommy

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Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney)
« on: March 01, 2015, 09:40:24 PM »
The photo below shows an aerial view of HMAS Sydney on one of her 'delivery' voyages to Vung Tau, SVN.

The original photo is high res and enables us to identify the vehicular cargo it has on it's flight deck. I have identified the following:

Land Rover:

88 - 42 (including 1 x ambulance)
109 GS/FFT - 18
Workshop - 5
Gunbuggy - 4

Trailer:

No.5 - 51
Workshop - 5
Other (generator, compressor etc) - 17

'Teaspoon Tipper' - 9
International Mk3 - 12 (including 3 x Instrument vans)
DUKW (Ducks) - 2
M113 - 10
Tractor Forklift - 2
Bulldozer - 3

Mystery Vehicle (under tarp) - 1


Click on image below (twice) to get HD version.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 01:57:49 PM by Tommy »

Offline Tommy

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2015, 09:46:51 PM »
Other photos of the same cargo.

Offline Mike C

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2015, 03:04:01 AM »
Tommy,

Very nice image. I'd say first delivery voyage 1965. It also looks like a trencher on the forward flight deck, too.

Mike

Offline Tommy

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2015, 05:44:10 AM »
Tommy,

Very nice image. I'd say first delivery voyage 1965. It also looks like a trencher on the forward flight deck, too.

Mike

Hello Mike

There are two tracked trenchers on board. The second is in the central group behind the 'Tea Spoon' tippers (see 4th photo in post #2).

Can you shed any light on the 'mystery' canvas covered vehicle. It is in size somewhere between a Land Rover and the Tipper. It looks too big for a Holden/Ford ute. Why do you think this particular vehicle is covered in canvas? Protection or 'hide from prying eyes'.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 05:56:52 AM by Tommy »

Offline zulu delta 534

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2015, 09:05:34 AM »
I am having some trouble identifying with the dates.
The following picture shows the HMAS Sydney loading out of Brisbane in 1965 and to my knowledge this was her first delivery trip to Vietnam. On this trip 1 RAR and a supporting logistics force bound for Bien Hoa were carried over plus one or two admin bods to be dropped off at Saigon (There is a Kombi in shot somewhere besides the aft lift)
A couple of things date this shot, one being the Pommy Ensign flying on the ship (This was the last trip that this ensign was flown as the Brits took offence at their ensign being shown in a war zone in which they were not involved) and secondly the ship is loading in Brisbane. You will note that the load is different in that in the Brisbane shot there are piles of timber along the starboard aft deck and this does not show up in the aerial shot (plus the vehicles are different in this area.


The second trip the Sydney did to Vietnam left from Sydney and carried some much more delicate cargo (me!!.... along with 5 RAR and a few others) and this shot is not of that trip as the numbers of vehicles does not tally, nor were there any DUKWs on our trip. Also on both of those trips the shipping bars were plastered right across the windshields of everything, so easy to see.
The third trip also left from Sydney and carried 1 Tpt Platoon (33 Mk3 trucks so the numbers once again do not tally.)
So it could possibly have been a later trip but the DUKWs throw me in this line of thinking, as I have no recollections whatsoever of any being on our flightdeck at the time (That does not mean that there were none of course, only that I dont remember seeing any. They were being phased out and replaced by LARC v's from 1964 onwards) and the teaspoon tippers also tend to throw the dates askew. To my knowledge there were no more of these vehicles sent over as they had been replaced by the F2 tippers as from 1967.

I would be very interested to hear others input into the dating of this shot as there are a few other niggly little details that throw me a bit. The vehicles loaded aft look to be a Battalion strength (this is borne out by the 4 gunbuggies that would have belonged to the Support Coy. I am wondering whether it may be Borneo going by the amount of Engineer equipment on board up forward.
Regards
Glen

Offline juddy

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2015, 06:47:42 PM »
What variant are those 2 tracked vehicles aft ( they have a flat roof )
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Offline zulu delta 534

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2015, 07:23:03 PM »
They look like command versions of the M113, the M577A1 with tarpaulin tops, but I am by no means sure.
Regards
Glen

Offline AGAS 5

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2015, 07:52:01 PM »
Tommy,,

Based on the outline, the first thing I thought was a Chevy or Ford pick-up... an F100 or the like ??

Pete
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Offline Tommy

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2015, 08:53:23 PM »
They look like command versions of the M113, the M577A1 with tarpaulin tops, but I am by no means sure.
Regards
Glen

Hello Glen

27 May 1965, 1 Troop A Squadron, 4th/9th PWLH, embarked for service to South Vietnam and arrived in country around the 8 June 1965.

This photo shows the tarp and the support frame on the M113s as seen on the deck of the Sydney.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 09:18:17 PM by Tommy »

Offline Tommy

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2015, 09:16:52 PM »
Tommy,,

Based on the outline, the first thing I thought was a Chevy or Ford pick-up... an F100 or the like ??

Pete

Hello Pete

I discount the Fords as there were no F Series trucks on charge during 1965. No Chevs of that type either. I wonder if it may be an International AB120 Ceremonial tray top. If so, it may involve funeral duties. Not the sort of vehicle you want young soldiers looking at whilst on the way to SVN. I'm only guessing here but it would seem logical.

Offline Mike C

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2015, 03:28:00 AM »
Hi Tommy,

No idea what the truck under the tarp is. I'll see if I can find something 'odd' that fits.

The reason I think this is the first deployment is the tea-spoon tippers and the 10 APCs - two under transit covers, the rest 'open'. The initial deployment included 8 APCs for operations plus 2 theatre reserve. The configuration of the ship is also pre-July 1967, when Sydney started a major refit that included additional cranes and the LCM6. Two DUKW and later 3 were a feature of each of the early voyages - I've not seen anything that indicates otherwise, but I'll check my notes again in the light of the comments above. I'll also check when 134155 was sent to SVN, but I suspect it will coincide with voyage 1, 1965. Lastly, the images Tommy has placed here have the same vehicle stowage layout as the images in Mud & Dust on pages 17,18, and 22, which were Navy official captioned as May 65.

Regards

Mike

Offline Mike C

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2015, 08:09:34 AM »
Hi Glen,

I've checked the logs for HMAS Sydney:
First voyage was ex-Sydney, leaving 27 May 1965, with 1RAR aboard. Arrival at Vung Tau, SVN, on 8 June 1965.
Second voyage was ex-Brisbane, leaving 14 September 1965, arriving SVN 28 September 1965.

5RAR's time in SVN is listed in the Official History as April 66 to July 67, which would put them aboard Sydney on her third voyage, leaving Sydney on 22 April 1966 and arriving on 4 May at Vung Tau, then back into Sydney on 18 May 1966.

Sydney made two more voyages before refit: departed Sydney 25 May 1966 and arrived back into Sydney on 5 July; departed Sydney on 8 April 1967 with 7 RAR aboard, and arrived back into Sydney on 12 May 1967 with 5RAR aboard (but this date seems to clash with the Official history date of 5RAR's service until early July  67, unless this accounts for the 'rear details'?)

Also checked 134155: one of the 10 carriers assigned to 1ALSC so definitely transported to SVN on Sydney's first voyage.

Mike
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 09:34:54 AM by Mike C »

Offline Carzee

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2015, 10:17:58 AM »
Thanks Stuart for a great photo resource. Best photo of VTF vehicle cargo to date!

As a sidebar..

Regarding 5RAR dates, the Wiki has references for the following:

5RAR RTA, 30 April 1967. Sydney welcome home march on 16 May 1967.

[ "The battalion returned to Australia in April 1967 and marched through the streets of Sydney on 16 May 1967; 25 men were killed in action or died of wounds, while 79 were wounded in action." ...reads as if there was a major contact in downtown Sydney. Wiki :) ]

The VTF book referenced below lists the following: HMAS Sydney arrived 12 May 1967 in Sydney and disembarked 5RAR and cargo.

The "early July 1967" Official date given for 5RAR RTA is therefore a little strange. 5RAR "Rear Details" arriving home (by way of another ship or QANTAS) up to 8 weeks later would be hard to explain; RAN/VTF 'Reports on Proceedings' mentions carrying 450+ battalion members, vehicles, equipment and cargo on many similar voyages.

A curious official RAN history of HMAS Sydney (the VTF): http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-sydney-iii

Its got service details from 48 to pre-Vietnam. It gets very brief for the SVN service years before mentioning the South Koreans brought it for scrap in Oct 1975 after 711,549 sea miles.

The RAN says in that history that there were 24 voyages to South Vietnam. A total of 25 voyages are listed in the book "The Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) And Escort Ships (Vietnam 1965-1972)" by Nott & Payne. I went to the AWM and read the 'Reports On Proceedings' in the collection. The ROPs are a summary of the ship's log provided to RAN HQ. This only added to the mystery: ROPs for HMAS Sydney for the whole of 1967 are not there. They are either gone to God or in the safe keeping of spooks.

What the VTF did between Christmas leave at Garden Is. 1966 and the end of Christmas leave in January 1968 is simply not there. Its not redacted or illegible, its not amongst the ROPs filed there. The Log of HMAS Sydney would be stored somewhere I suppose.

Last year I set out the Vung Tau Ferry and Jeparit voyages on a spreadsheet to try to make things clearer regarding the Battalion tours given the discrepancies:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UPfj3yHYGcvguqNto1VX0BNNMEP57IjmiSmoD5Zz6qo

The Jeparit left Vung Tau on a RTA voyage 2 July 1967 and unloaded in Sydney 18 July 1967. Could the Jeparit voyage have caused an error with the Official 5RAR dates?

I have the group of units listed as being RTA 5 July 1967 in the attached screencapture. The Units and dates there are extracted from the "Australian Army Orders" dated 31st May 1972 scanned pages posted by Stuart; http://remlr.com/forum/index.php?topic=215.0
Misinformation perhaps.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 11:08:02 AM by Carzee »

Offline Mike C

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2015, 01:09:03 PM »
Good job, Carzee.

John Carroll's recent book 'Out of Sight Out of Mind' states Sydney had 25 voyages, the last recorded as November 1972, well after the ground combat forces had left. The 24th voyage he has as Feb 1972. I had this as voyage 23, and the 'RAN In Vietnam' lists that February voyage as Sydney's 22nd!!  From 'proceedings', I counted the Nov 1972 voyage as the 24th .... so go figure!  Obviously more needs to be done to work out the exact number.

It can be accounted for by the fact that Carroll breaks voyage 5 into two voyages: Aust to SVN to Singapore as the 5th voyage, then Singapore to SVN to Sydney as the 6th voyage, whereas everyone else treats this as a single voyage (Aust to Aust - 8 April to 12 May 1967) as per RAN regulations - hence, he totals 25 whereas others  total 24 ..... except the RAN who say 23! Carroll has 5RAR embarking at Vungers on 30 April and disembarking in Sydney on 12 May 1967.

None of the references list a voyage terminating in Sydney in July with 5RAR aboard.

Carrol does list another voyage pre-refit: departing Brisbane 19 May (so bloody quick turnaround in Sydney) with 2RAR aboard and arriving in VT 30 May 1967 to disembark 2RAR and embark 6RAR, who are then disembarked in Brisbane on 14 June.

Clear as mud, eh?!

Mike

Offline Diana Alan

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Re: Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) Cargo
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2015, 03:20:20 PM »
Good job, Carzee.

<snip>

... Clear as mud, eh?!

Mike
Perhaps the title of another book, Mud and Water, the inconsistent history of troop ship HMAS Sydney!  :o
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