- Gillett, Ross
- History - general, Ship design and development, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2011 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The most effective destroyer periods had spanned from 1939 to 1946 with 18 ships in service and then from the late 1950s, with two “Battle” class and three “Daring” class, all modern and powerful ships in commission. The “Battles” served in Korea with United Nations forces, but were unfortunately retired early from front line duties, Tobruk into reserve and Anzac for use as a training ship, both in 1961. During their short commissions as front line warships the pair of “Battle” class destroyers had provided the carriers with excellent gunfire and anti-aircraft support via their two twin 4.5 inch and twelve 40mm guns. Designed in the United Kingdom, the RAN’s “Daring” class were initially referred to as light cruisers. Four improved “Darings” were ordered from local yards in 1947 and three completed in 1957-59. Fine additions to the post Korean War navy Vendetta operated until 1979 and Vampire to 1980 when converted to a training ship.
Destroyer numbers remained fairly constant after the retirement of the two “Battles”, and then increased to six after the introduction of the three “Perth” class guided missile ships. The tragic loss of the first commissioned “Daring” class Voyager on 10 February 1964 was filled by the Royal Navy’s Duchess to maintain a trio of the type in service, until the later was converted to a training ship in 1973. Following Vampire’s transition to the training role, only the three “Perth” class DDGs remained. Despite a number of upgrades to the DDGs, age caught up and even they were decommissioned, Perth on 15 October 1999, then Hobart withdrawn on 12 May 2000 and finally Brisbane on 19 October 2001, after 34 years of service. As a replacement for the “Perth” class (in 1998-99) the United States Navy offered four “Kidd” class guided missile destroyers. Built originally, but never delivered to the Iranian Navy, the 20 year old ships were rejected for the second time in October 1999, due to their age, the cost of refits and the planned upgrades for the “Adelaide” class guided missile frigates and later to the “Anzac” class frigates. Since the withdrawal of Brisbane the RAN has been a frigate navy, with six (later four) guided missile frigates of the “Adelaide” class, plus eight of the more recent “Anzacs” in commission. However the era of the destroyer in the RAN is not yet over, with three new 7,000 tonne “Hobart” class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) planned to enter service from 2014 to 2017. Designed in Spain where they are classified as guided missile frigates, the 7,000 ton ships will be the largest surface combatants to serve with the navy since the heavy cruiser Australia was retired in 1954.