By J. Wandres
(Intrepid Explorer of the South Pacific)
My wife and I were fortunate to be part of a small-group tour of New Zealand and Australia. Whilst in Sydney I visited the Australian National Maritime Museum, and the destroyer HMAS Vampire, a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association, as is LCI-713. It was a gray, drizzly day. Museum curator Jeff Hodgkins introduced me to three volunteers of the “Steel Team” who constantly check for rust. Other volunteer teams inspect the engine room, or armaments.
The 60-year old Daring-class HMAS Vampire served the Australian navy for more than a quarter century. Twin steam turbines produced 54,000 horsepower to drive the ship at better than 30 knots. Armament included six 4.5-inch cannons in three twin turrets, six 40mm BoFors and five 21-inch torpedoes. A refit added a Sea Cat missiles.
To American navy types, Vampire would seem like an upscale cruise yacht: The wardroom is turned out with hardwood trim, silver service and a wine bar. The C.O. suite has a private office. The Chiefs’ lounge has its own galley.
HMAS Vampire visited the U.S. during the 1976 bicentennial, making port visits at Long Beach and Seattle. After serving as a training vessel Vampire was decommissioned, then transferred to the Australian Naval Museum, along with patrol boat HMAS Advance, submarine HMAS Onslow and Her Majesty’s Barque, HMB Endeavor.