HMAS Vampire is an English designed Daring Class warship built in Australia and launched in 1959. It served as a destroyer with the RAN until 1986 and contributed to Australia’s defence during the Cold War years. It represents end of the era for the ‘big gun’ warship in the RAN, a period where warships used manned guns as their primary offensive armament. It shows the firepower and associated communications and navigational technology used in this period before automated guns and guided missiles were introduced to warships
HMAS Vampire‘s layout displays the accepted working and living conditions on a RAN warship from the 1950s until the 1980s, where vessels were still reliant on large crew numbers to operate all aspects of the vessel. Ships such as HMAS Vampire had difficulty arranging crew accommodation in reasonable locations, and the vessel shows the tight, close quarter’s arrangements they had to endure, whilst retaining the social hierarchy on board that separated areas for officers and seamen.
It was armed with:
- 3 twin turrets housing 6 x 4.5-inch guns (still in place) single-gun and 2 twin-gun Bofors anti-aircraft guns (still in place)
- 5 anti-ship torpedo launchers (removed in 1970) surface to subsurface anti-submarine mortar (removed in 1980)
The Daring Class represents the culmination of British destroyer design based on experience gained during World War II, and shows naval state of the art for the immediate post war period, The Daring class were the first pre-fabricated welded ships built in Australia, and used aluminium for first time as well. HMAS Vampire’s original integrity shows this construction and represents the state of Australian shipbuilding technology for the early 1950s,
HMAS Vampire took part in many deployments and joint operations with other navies. These reflect the changing nature of Australia’s strategic defence priorities, which were shifting from its traditional allegiance to British interests to increasing reliance on its alliance to the United States HMAS Vampire’s history of operations represents the period when there was a change of defence priorities from an allegiance to the United Kingdom over to a close working relationship with USA, and a change in the scope and directions of Australia’s defence strategy.