During the Vietnam War HMAS Sydney (III) transported thousands of soldiers and most of the heavy equipment for the 1st Australian Task Force in South Vietnam. Sydney made more than 20 voyages to and from Vietnam between 1965 and 1972, and was dubbed the “Vung Tau ferry”.
Commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1948, HMAS Sydney (III) was a Majestic Class light aircraft carrier. It served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1952 and ten years later was recommissioned as a Fast Troop Transport, before playing a key transport role in Australia’s commitment in the Vietnam War. Responsibility for escorting Sydney into the war zone was shared between 11 different RAN destroyers.
On 8 February 1968 Sydney was anchored off Vung Tau in Phuoc Tuy province, South Vietnam, with 290 troops and 280 tons of stores on board, including 56 vehicles and 50 tons of explosives. Some stores and troops were moved by helicopter directly to the Australian base at Nui Dat, while others were offloaded from barges at the 1st Australian Logistic Support Group at Vung Tau.
The fast unloading and reloading of Sydney in Vung Tau minimised the possibility of attack from the peninsula or nearby Long Son Island, and four hours after its arrival the ship began the return journey to Australia.