HMAS Hobart was one of three guided missile destroyers built in the United States for the RAN. After commissioning at Boston Naval Shipyard on 18 December 1965, she continued fitting out and undertook sea trials and exercises, before sailing to Norfolk in January 1966.
Exercises in the Norfolk area were followed by departure for Mayport, Florida in February and further exercises in the area. Hobart then proceeded via the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California, arriving on 13 March. After exercises in the Long Beach and San Diego areas, she proceeded to Bangor, Washington. While based there, she exercised in the Puget Sound and Ediz Hook areas and, on 21 April, sailed for Vancouver. After a four-day stay in Vancouver, Hobart sailed for San Francisco and San Diego.
San Diego area and final acceptance trials completed on 16-18 May. She returned via San Francisco to Long Beach Naval Shipyard, where she was based for most of June. In July the ship completed Post Shakedown Availability.
On 3 August, Hobart began the first leg of her voyage to Australia. She called at Pearl Harbor and Suva, and arrived in Hobart on 1 September 1966. She berthed in Sydney on 7 September. In October she took part in Exercise SWORDHILT.
Hobart undertook three deployments to Vietnam:
|7 Mar 67 – 27 Sep 67||Captain G.R. Griffiths, DSC, RAN||Royal Purple|
|22 Mar 68 – 11 Oct 68||Captain K.W. Shands, RAN||Royal Purple|
|16 Mar 70 – 17 Oct 70||Captain R.C. Swan, RAN||Pacific Ocean|
During these deployments, Hobart served as part of the US Seventh Fleet, participated in Operation Sea Dragon and served on the gunline providing naval gunfire support (NGFS) and harassment and interdiction (H & I) fire. Targets included: Viet Cong troop concentrations, military bases, bridges, caves, storage areas, weapons positions, supply routes, wells, trucks, ammunition dumps, sampans, dams, bunkers, wharves, boat yards and arms caches. She provided support for US Marine and airborne divisions and for ARVN divisions. She also undertook plane guard and escort duties, for example with the Attack Carrier Striking Group 77.5 (USS Kitty Hawk), patrols and surveillance, and engaged water borne logistic craft (WBLCs). At times Hobart came under heavy fire from the shore, but escaped damage. Hobart’s contribution received high praise from senior US naval officers.
A typical signal, received on 23 April 1967, read:
DEPARTURE OF DRAGON FROM DOWN UNDER VIEWED WITH REGRET AND SENSE OF LOSS OF LONG RIGHT ARM. HOBART’S AGGRESSIVENESS AND SUPERB PERFORMANCE UNDER FAST MOVING, HOT COMBAT CONDITIONS LEFT NOTHING TO BE DESIRED. PROUD TO HAVE YOU ON THIS TEAM AND EAGERLY LOOK FORWARD TO JOINING YOU IN FUTURE SHOOT OUTS WITH THE ENEMY.
At the end of each deployment she handed over to HMAS Perth (II).
Among the many notable incidents in which Hobart was involved was the occasion when she went to the assistance of USS Forrestal on 29 July 1967 after the aircraft carrier suffered a major fire which caused numerous casualties. Hobart provided fire-fighting equipment and transferred Surgeon Lieutenant L. Barnett, RAN to the carrier to help with the care of the injured.
An unusual feature of the 1968 deployment was a visit, in May, to Kaohsiung, in Taiwan.
On 17 June 1968, Hobart was hit by air-launched Sparrow 3 missiles, mistakenly fired by an F4 Phantom jet of the US Seventh Airforce. The ship was badly damaged and Ordinary Seaman R.J. Butterworth and Chief Petty Officer R.H. Hunt were killed. Seven members of the crew were wounded. Repairs were undertaken at Subic Bay; these were completed on 20 July and Hobart returned to the gunline. From November 1968 until July 1969 Hobart underwent a major refit. This included the fitting of the Ikara anti-submarine missile launchers.
On 21 April, 1969, Hobart’s contribution in Vietnam was recognised with the award of a US Navy Unit Commendation for “exceptionally meritorious service” as an element of the US Seventh Fleet during the period 10 March to 20 September 1967. The citation referred to the “outstanding teamwork, courage and professionalism displayed by Hobart’s officers and men.”
In 1967 Hobart first won the Gloucester Cup; she was to win this cup on seven further occasions (1970, 1975, 1979, 1982, 1988, 1992 and 1994).
In February 1971, Hobart undertook a training cruise to New Zealand, calling at the Bay of Islands and Auckland. A workup period in June and July was followed in August by the Prime Minister’s announcement that the ship would not relieve HMAS Brisbane in Vietnam. This was a great disappointment to the ship’s company. In October Hobart departed for Pearl Harbor, to participate in ASWEX and RIMPAC 71. She returned to Sydney on 10 December.
The award entitled crew members to wear the ribbon of the US Navy Unit Commendation on their left breast beside their Imperial and Australian medals.
Citation for HMAS HOBART
The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in Commending HMAS HOBART (D39) for Services set forth in the following:
For Exceptionally Meritorious Service during the period 10th March to 20th September, 1967, while engaged in Combat Operations in direct support of Free World Objectives in South East Asia. As an element of Task Unit 70.8.9 HMAS HOBART provided Naval Gunfire Support for United States and Allied Forces ashore in the Republic of Vietnam, and as an element of Task Group 77.1 in the Gulf of Tonkin, supported Naval Operations against North Vietnamese logistics groups and lines of communications. Undeterred by frequent, vigorous, accurate enemy shore fire, HOBART was responsible for the destruction of numerous enemy installations, earning an enviable reputation as an Aggressive Eager and Dauntless Member of the US Seventh Fleet. The outstanding Team Work, Courage and Professionalism displayed by HOBART Officers and Men reflect Great Credit upon themselves and the Royal Australian Navy and were in keeping with the Highest Traditions of the Naval Service.
On 27 January 1972 Hobart departed for Manus Island and then proceeded to Subic Bay, before participating in Exercise SEAHAWK. She then took passage to Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore before taking part in Exercise GENESIS. After returning to Singapore, she proceeded via Christmas Island, Fremantle and Melbourne, before returning to Sydney on 14 April. In June she sailed via Suva and Pearl Harbor to San Francisco. She remained there at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard until November to allow her gun mounts to be updated. She then returned to Sydney, via Los Angeles, Pearl Harbor and Suva, arriving on 18 December.
In June 1974 Hobart departed for the Coral Sea where, with British, United States, New Zea1and and other Australian ships, she participated in Exercise KANGAROO ONE and in Exercise BOOMERANG ONE. In August she commenced the CASEX phase of JUC 93, followed by the LONGEX phase. Further exercises followed with visits to Port Phillip Bay, Devonport, Hobart and New Zealand (where Hobart spent time in the Milford Sound, Nelson, Auckland and the Bay of Islands). MAREX 74 was completed in November, as was Exercise Tasman Tricks. On Christmas Day, news of Cyclone Tracy was received and recall of the ship’s company began. Further build-up of the crew occurred on the 26th and stores were loaded. On 27 December Hobart cast off and left in company with HMAS Supply and HMAS Vendetta (II). On 30 December the ships briefly berthed in Townsville before sailing for Darwin later that day.
On 3 January 1975 Hobart, in company with Supply and Vendetta entered Darwin Harbour and the first working parties were landed. Members of the ship’s company undertook clearing and rehabilitation tasks in support of Operation NAVY HELP DARWIN. The ship quickly settled into a routine: over 100 men were landed daily and they worked two days ashore and had one day on board. Work ceased on 16 January and two days later Hobart departed, entering Sydney on 24 January. On 18 February she left for Hawaii, in company with HMAS Melbourne (II) and HMAS Parramatta (III). Hobart arrived in Pearl Harbor on 3 March. A week later she sailed to participate in RIMPAC 75. On 27 March, again in company with Melbourne and Parramatta, she took passage for Australia. After Hobart had called at Suva, the three ships entered Sydney Harbour on 11 April. A period of maintenance and workup was followed in August with the commencement of an Indian Ocean deployment.
Initially, Hobart exercised with HMA Ships Vampire (II), Vendetta, Duchess and Swan (III) and HMNZS Taranaki. While crossing the Great Australian Bight, Hobart became the first RAN DDG to reach one third of a million miles steamed since commissioning. On 11 August, Hobart berthed at the West Australian Naval Support Facility; she was the first RAN ship to do so, an event that attracted much publicity. After calling at Fremantle, Hobart set course for Male in the Maldives Islands. She became the first RAN ship to visit the Republic and after a short stay she departed on 23 August to rendezvous with RN Task Group 317.3. Later in the month she was joined by two ships of the Iranian Imperial Navy and escorted to Bandar Abbas.
On 2 September, Hobart departed Bandar Abbas for Karachi. She exercised with ships of the Pakistan Navy, before taking passage for Bombay. Her visit there was followed by exercises with ships of the Indian Navy. She then set course for Singapore, arriving on 24 September. Early in October, in company with HMA Ships Brisbane, Vampire and Vendetta, she undertook exercises. They were later joined by RN and RMNS ships. Hobart and Brisbane then detached and proceeded to Subic Bay. On 9 October Hobart set course for Bangkok and returned to Singapore after a stay of four days. Participation, with RN ships, in Exercise SWIFT SWING followed. Hobart then proceeded to Darwin and set course for Sydney via the Barrier Reef. Before her arrival she carried out further exercises with other RAN and RN ships. In November and December, the three DDGs exercised in company.
In April 1976 Hobart visited Brisbane, Newcastle and her namesake city, Hobart. On 17 May she sailed from Sydney to begin Operation PHINEAS FOGG, a round-the-world deployment with the primary object of representing Australia at the International Naval Review in New York. This review was part of the USA Bicentennial Celebrations.
Hobart first visited Suva and Pearl Harbor, before setting course for Long Beach, where she arrived on 6 June. She then visited San Diego and transited the Panama Canal before proceeding to Norfolk. After a stay of a week, Hobart joined the International Naval Review. On 3 July she was one of a column of 48 ships from 20 navies which entered New York Harbor, later anchoring prior to the celebrations on 4 July when a parade of sailing ships passed through the fleet.
Hobart then proceeded to a berth in Manhattan, where she remained for three nights. Some of the ship’s company took part in a march down Broadway during this visit and on 7 July she cast off and took passage for Baltimore. After a short stay she set course for the Azores, where she briefly visited Ponta Delgarda, before proceeding to Gibraltar. Exercises in the area with ships of the Royal Navy were followed by exercises with ships of the French Navy, before course was set for Toulon. After a three day stay, Hobart proceeded via Bonifacio Strait to Naples. She then set course for Port Said and transited the Suez Canal. On 4 August she visited Al Aqabah in Jordan and two days later departed for Djibouti. Her next stop was in Cochin, India. She then returned to Australia, via Singapore and Darwin.
Hobart entered Sydney Harbour on 3 September 1976, bringing operation PHINEAS FOGG to a close. In October, after participating in Exercise KANGAROO II, Hobart began preparations for an extended refit. This was carried out at Garden Island Dockyard. It involved a complete weapons system update, including the updating the Tartar guided missile fire control system and the radars, and the installation of the Naval Combat Data System. In addition, living spaces were refitted and the ship’s turbines converted from furnace fuel oil to diesel oil.
In September 1978 Hobart sailed (with HMAS Perth) for a Mid Pacific deployment. She berthed in Suva on 23 September and then proceeded to the Hawaiian exercise area and in October participated in USN exercise COMPUTEX 1-79 as an element of Task Group 37.9. She sailed from Pearl Harbor in company with Perth on 24 October and returned to Sydney on 10 November.
In 1979 Hobart undertook a Medivac mission to Macquarie Island. The purpose was to rescue an injured ANARE biologist, Roger Barker, who had been severely injured in a fall down a cliff. The ship sailed from Sydney on 5 January and, after encountering heavy weather, reached the island on the morning of 8 January. The injured man was transferred by the MV Thala Dan’s helicopter and Hobart immediately weighed anchor. On the return trip rough conditions were again encountered. The ship berthed in Hobart on 10 January and the patient was admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital. After surgery he was transferred to the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, but died there on 8 February. (For a fuller account of this mission, see “Naval Ingenuity: A Case Study” in Semaphore, Newsletter of the Sea Power Centre, Issue 18, November 2005.)
In August 1979, Hobart participated in Exercise TASMAN EXPRESS, and visited Nelson and Auckland. This was followed by Tasmanex 79, in which she exercised with RN, USN, RNZN and other RAN ships. Exercise SEA EAGLE followed in September and KANGAROO THREE in October.
In February 1980, Hobart visited Tonga and then sailed for Hawaii. Together with ships from the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the RAN she took part in RIMPAC 80. She returned to Sydney in April and participated in Exercise TOKEN COST in May and in Exercise SEA EAGLE TWO in June.
In May 1981 Hobart celebrated the steaming of half a million miles since commissioning. A period of refit was followed by exercises and workup; on July 16 Hobart left on a North West Indian Ocean deployment to relieve HMAS Brisbane. Hobart took passage via Darwin to Singapore, visited Colombo and in August operated in the Diego Garcia area with US Task Group 70.9 and in the North West Indian Ocean with Task Group 70.2. After a visit to Karachi, Hobart operated with American and British Task Groups and also undertook a goodwill visit to the Seychelles. A period of self maintenance in Mombasa was followed by further operations with US Task Groups and the Amphibious Heavy Group. Before and after a goodwill visit to Bombay, there were exercises with the US Task Group 70.3 (the USS Coral Sea Battle Group). A goodwill visit to Male, in the Republic of the Maldives followed, and Hobart returned to Australia, via Colombo and Singapore. After calling at Fremantle and Port Adelaide, she berthed in Sydney on 21 December, having been away for 158 days and having steamed over 38,000 miles.
Early in 1982, Hobart participated in Exercise SEA EAGLE 82-1, and in March, as leader of Task Group 627.3, took passage for Suva and Pearl Harbor to participate, with RN, US, Canadian, and Japanese ships, in Exercise RIMPAC 82. After departing from Pearl Harbor, Operation TORTA was implemented and Hobart returned to Sydney at the end of May. In July Hobart participated in Exercise PITCH BLACK 82. On 29 September Hobart, in company with other RAN and RNZN ships, escorted the Royal Yacht, Britannia, into Brisbane for the beginning of the ceremonies for the XII Commonwealth Games. Participation in TASMANEX 82 in October (with Australian, Canadian and New Zealand ships) was followed by visits to Auckland and Wellington.
In 1983, Hobart took part in: Exercise SEA EAGLE 83-1, Exercise KANGAROO 83, Exercise VALIANT USHER and Exercise TRANSITEX 83.1.
A major refit was carried out in 1984-1985.
After workup, Hobart, Perth and Brisbane briefly operated together off Sydney in July 1985. Hobart, in company with Brisbane, visited Suva before continuing alone to Pago Pago, Pearl Harbor and San Diego. A major purpose of the deployment was to participate in the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy; together with the newly commissioned HMAS Darwin and submarine Onslow, Hobart joined ships of the Canadian, United States and New Zealand navies in Vancouver. The fleet passed through the Juan De Fuca Islands before assembling in the Esquimalt approaches for review. Hobart departed Vancouver on 30 August and the next month participated (with Canadian, United States, New Zealand and Australian ships) in the ASW Exercise MARCOT 2/85. She returned home in via Seattle, Pearl Harbor, Pago Pago, Wellington and Milford Sound, berthing in Sydney on 29 October.
On 24 January 1986, Hobart featured in the fleet entry that marked the beginning of the RAN’s 75th Anniversary celebrations. She later participated in Exercises TASMAN SEA 86-1 and PITCH BLACK 86-1 before deploying to South-East Asia as Commander of RAN Task Group 627.3 (Hobart, Parramatta, Stuart, Geraldton, Derwent and Swan). In the South China Sea she exercised with USN Task Group 70.10 (which included the WWII battleship USS New Jersey) and after a port visit to Bangkok, during which she suffered a total steam failure, she sailed for Hong Kong and Manila. There she participated in MULTIPLEX 86-3. From Manila, Hobart steamed to Darwin. On leaving Darwin, she exercised with RN Task Group 318.4 and ships of the RNZN before proceeding to Mackay and Jervis Bay. There she exercised with US and RN ships and in late September and early October she joined in the international Naval Assembly and Review organized as part of the 75th Anniversary of the granting of the title Royal to the Australian Navy. In October Hobart again sailed participated in Exercise CROWEATER with RN and US ships. This exercise was memorable to those on board for its appalling weather and sea conditions.
In 1987, participation in Exercise TASMAN SEA 87-1 was followed by a South East Asian deployment. After visiting Manila and Hong Kong in August, Hobart exercised with US, British and New Zealand warships. In September she spent a period in company with the USS Constellation Battle Group and participated in Exercise VALIANT USHER 87-3 with the USN Amphibious Readiness Group 5. In October Hobart took part in Exercise TASMAN RULER.
In January 1988 Hobart took part in the Bicentennial Australia Day celebrations before joining in Exercises TASMAN RULER, FLYING FISH 88-1 and TASMAN LINK 88. In May she sailed to Apia, where the ship’s company attended Western Samoa’s independence celebrations. The ship then proceeded to Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC 88 (exercising with US and Canadian ships), before returning to Sydney (via Tuvalu and Vanuatu) in August. A short deployment to the South Island of New Zealand followed before Hobart participated in the Bicentennial Naval Salute and the Naval Review.
A $100 million refit and modernization were begun in 1989 and lasted until late 1991. The Ikara anti-submarine missile system was removed, accommodation refurbished, the guided missile launching system modernized and the ship fitted with 2 x 20 mm Mk 15 Vulcan Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). In October that year Hobart took part in the Fiftieth Anniversary Fleet Review of the Royal New Zealand Navy and also in AUCKEX 1/91.
Hobart participated in Exercise CORAL SEA in April 1992 and the following month the ship took part in the Fiftieth Battle of the Coral Sea Commemoration Fleet Entry and Review. Participation in RIMPAC 92 followed, together with visits to Pearl Harbor, Lahaina and San Diego; Hobart returned to Sydney in August.
In February 1993, after participating in Exercise TASMANEX 93, Hobart visited Auckland and exercised in company with Task Group 627.3. She then visited Port Moresby, Cebu, Manila, Singapore, Penang and Surabaya later taking part in Exercise IADS 93-1. After her return to Darwin in May she participated in KAKADU I and exercised with the USS Independence Battle Group.
In April 1994 Hobart proceeded via Suva to Pearl Harbor, for RIMPAC 94 and later, in November, she was involved in Exercise SANDGROPER.
In March 1995 Hobart participated in KAKADU II before departing Darwin for exercises in S.E. Asia and the Pacific. She visited Penang, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu, Subic Bay, Hong Kong and Inchon (where she exercised with Korean naval vessels). Finally she visited Yokosuka in Japan before participating in exercise en route to Guam. Visits to Nelson and Auckland in New Zealand followed in November and the celebrated its 30th birthday in December.
A refit occupied the greater part of 1996.
In May 1997 Hobart began a South/North East Asian deployment. She visited Singapore and then, as part of Task Group 627.5 and in company the USS Independence Task Group, took part in Exercise TRANSITEX I. Following this exercise, Hobart visited Subic Bay, Yokosuka, Tokyo and Sasebo and participated in Exercise TRANSITEX II and Exercise GOODWILL (a bilateral exercise between Task Group 627.5 and ships of the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force). Hobart then took passage to Sattahip, Kuantan and Ujung Pandang before returning to Australia for KAKADU III and ASWEX 97.
Early in 1998 a New Zealand deployment saw the ageing DDG visit Wellington, Napier, Auckland and Dunedin in New Zealand. In August she left Sydney on her final South East Asian deployment (Operation TRAVELLER) where she visited Jakarta, Manado, Singapore, Phuket, Penang, Lumut, Kuantan, Bankok and Ujung Pandang.
By May 1999 Hobart attained the distinction of having steamed one million nautical miles since commissioning – the third RAN ship to do so.
In February 2000, the ship paid her last visit to her namesake city, Hobart, and in March was deployed to New Zealand and the South West Pacific for the last time. She visited Auckland, Nelson, Suva and Port Vila. On her return to Australia, she called at Mackay and Geelong before her final return to Sydney. On 12 May 2000 Hobart was decommissioned following 34 years of service. Among the guests present at the ceremony was Lady Hay, who launched the ship. Hobart was later sunk as dive wreck on the South Australian coast, in YankalillaBay, on the Southern Fleurieu Penninsular.