Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - HMAS Hobart
HMAS Hobart was one of three "Charles F. Adams" class guided missile destroyers (DDG) built for the Royal Australian Navy. The others were HMAS Perth and HMAS Brisbane. Of interest, Charles F. Adams was an American yachtsman who won the America's Cup in 1921 as the skipper of the Resolute. He then became the US Secretary of Navy during 1929 to 1933.
On 26 October 1962 the keel of the new ship was laid down built at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, Michigan (over 200 metres above sea level). The new vessel was 437 feet (133.2 m) long and 47 feet (14.2 m) wide. Displacing 4,570 tons, the new ship was launched on 9 January 1964 and commissioned as DDG 39 on 18 December 1965 at Boston, Massachusetts, USA.. The destroyer was powered by four oil fired Foster Wheeler D-type 1275 psi 1265Â°F boilers which provided steam for two 35,000 shaft horse power steam turbines (they could run at 40,000 shp on 20% overload) which drove twin shafts through gearboxes.
Power and speed output
|Revs||Shaft Horse Power|
Each engine and each boiler had their own engine/boiler room. The port boiler room was forward below the front stack, then the port engine room and then the starboard boiler room and stack and then the starboard engine behind this. Top speed was in excess of 35 knots (almost 70 kph), making her Australia's fastest conventional hulled ship. Four 500 kw steam driven generators provided electricity for the ship. The ship had a complement of 333 officers and sailors. The total cost of the new ship was $45,000,000 which included spares and ammunition.
Armament consisted of two 5 inch 54 calibre automatic rapid-fire guns, a "Tartar" guided missile system (later changed to the Mk 13 Mod 6 guided missle system firing Standard SM-1 MR (medium range) surface to air missiles), two Ikara long range anti-submarine launchers and triple torpedo launchers (total of six 324 mm Mk 32 torpedoes) on either side of the ship. There were also six 12.7 mm machine guns. In the late 1980s the Hobart and her sisters were equipped with Harpoon anti-ship missiles and at some time it was fitted with two 20 Vulcan Phalanx systems for protection against aircraft. The Ikara system was removed in the early 1990s. There was a powerful sonar system fitted to the bow.
The new ship sailed for Australia on 3 August 1966 after eight months of trials and exercises in American waters. Travelling via the Panama Canal, Hawaii and Fiji, the ship arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, on 1 September 1966.
The late 1960s were the peak periods of the Vietnam War for the Australian Navy and HMAS Hobart was sent there in April 1967. She served as part of the US 7th Fleet till September 1967. It appears that HMAS Perth may have relieved the Hobart. In April 1968 HMAS Hobart returned to Vietnam taking over from the Perth which had left on about 31 March 1968. The Hobart became part of the "Gunline" Deployment on 20 May 1968 and was sent into action around Da Nang. In early June 1968 she was sent to Subic Bay, Philippines, for the replacement of her two 5 inch gun barrels. On 11 June 1968 the Hobart returned to action, relieving USS St Paul with the commander of the ship, Captain Shands, taking command of Task Unit 77.1.2.
On 13 and 14 June 1968 the Hobart, together with USS Theodore Chandler, shelled areas around Mui Ong and Cap Lay. She came under fire, 13 rounds landing as close as 50 metres. The Hobart hit one of the guns and USAAF Phantoms hit the others. This was not the first time the ship had been attacked and was not to be the last.
Over the next few days the two ships were joined by USS Edson and the three ships carried out surveillance around Tiger Island, approximately 21 kilometres east of Cap Lay.
On the morning of 17 June 1968, HMAS Hobart noticed a plane approaching from Cap Lay but it was identified as being US. However, the aircraft fired a missile, but the Hobart took no evasive action, presumably as the crew knew the plane was American. The missile hit the Hobart amidships on the starboard side, passing through the No 1 deck and hitting the Chief Petty Officers Pantry, Radar Room 3, the Missile Director Control Room and the Emergency Conning Platform. The missile's body continued on and went through the outer skin of the after funnel and ended up in the forward funnel. Killed by the missile was Ordinary Seaman R. J. Butterworth and wounded Able Seaman Parker and Ordinary Seaman Davidson.
The Hobart came to Action Stations and three and a half minutes later, two more missiles hit here. One failed to explode. This missile entered the ship and damaged the Gunners Store and Engineers Workshop. The main damage to the ship caused by this missile was the Aft Seamen's Mess. The second missile of this attack hit near where the first missile hit a few minutes earlier. It went through the Fan Space, the Missile Director Equipment Room and the No 2 Missile Director. The Ikara Missile Magazine was also damaged. Chief Electrician Hunt was killed and several sailors were injured by shrapnel from the missile. The Hobart fired five rounds from her 5 inch guns.
A helicopter from the USS Enterprise lifted AB Parker, Mechanic Holmes and AB Laity to Da Nang where they were attended to in the hospital. The Hobart was relieved from the Task Unit command and sailed to Subic Bay. On the way the crew cleared up the damage and from the remains of the missile, it was ascertained that the Hobart had been hit by Sea Sparrow missiles, fired from an American aircraft.
Over the nights of 16 and 17 June 1968, several other American vessels were attacked by US aircraft. On 16 June 1968 USS PCF 19 (a patrol boat) was sunk (five dead) and on 17 June 1968, the Edson and USS Boston were also attacked. The Edson was attacked 15 minutes after the Hobart. USCGC Point Dume (Coast Guard) and WPB82325 and PCF12 (a patrol boat) were also attacked. The Boston was hit but only the Hobart out of this group suffered fatalities.
I am unaware what actions were taken to find out which planes attacked the ships and what actions, if any, may have been taken against the pilots. Probably nothing I would suspect.
HMAS Hobart arrived in Subic Bay on 19 June 1968 where the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAFLT), Admiral J.J. Hyland, USN, and Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp, USN (don't you just love American names!!), Commander in Chief of the US Forces in the Pacific, examined the damage.
Presumably the damage was repaired in Subic Bay (I will check on this) and was returned to service off Vietnam. In September 1968 the ship was relieved again by HMAS Perth and the Hobart returned to Australia.
In April 1970 the Hobart went back to Vietnam and served till September 1970. This time she was again relieved by HMAS Perth.
When Darwin in the Northern Territory was totally destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day 1975, HMAS Hobart was involved in the relief effort.
As indicated above, in the late 1980s the ship had its missile systems modified. The rest of the ship's life was not particularly eventful.
HMAS Hobart was decommissioned on 12 May 2000. The ship was given to the South Australian Government to be scuttled as a dive site. After a lot of work, the ship was scuttled on Melbourne Cup Day 5 November 2002. For more details on diving the wreck of the Hobart see HMAS Hobart Diving Page.
HMAS Hobart's sister ships have or will also be dive sites. HMAS Perth was scuttled off Albany, Western Australia in 2001 and HMAS Brisbane has been offered to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. However, as in early 2003 the Brisbane was still sitting in Sydney Harbour as there appeared to be some conflict over the scuttling location and perhaps other matters. It has now left so presumably this problem has been resolved.
HMAS Hobart is the most intact of the three, with both guns, the missile system and the bridge intact. The guns have been removed from the Perth and both guns, the missile system and the bridge removed from the Brisbane.