HMAS Perth (II)
Charles F Adams (Modified Perth) Class
Guided Missile Destroyer
Fight and Flourish
Defoe Shipbuilding Co, Bay City, Michigan, USA
Laid Down
21 September 1962
26 September 1963
Launched by
Lady Beale, wife of the Australian Ambassador to USA
17 July 1965
15 October 1999
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 4850 tonnes
Length 133.2 metres
Beam 14.3 metres
Speed 30 knots
Crew 332
Machinery Geared steam turbines driving two shafts
  • Standard surface to air missiles
  • Ikara anti-submarine missiles
Guns 2 x 127mm (5-inch) rapid fire gun mounts
Torpedoes Ship launched anti-submarine torpedoes
Inherited Battle Honours
Battle Honours VIETNAM 1967-71
HMAS Perth (II) Badge

Following her commissioning at Boston, Massachusetts, Perth (II) spent eight months in American waters conducting trials and exercises. On 12 February 1966 she sailed for Australia arriving at Perth, WA on 4 March where she was granted Freedom of Entry to the city.

During September 1967-April 1968; September 1968-April 1969 and September 1970-April 1971, Perth (II) served as a unit of the US Seventh Fleet operating off the coast of Vietnam providing naval gunfire support to land forces. The ship was awarded the United States Navy Unit Commendation following her first deployment, and the United States Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation after her second deployment.

HMAS Perth in Canada, 1965
HMAS Perth (II) in Canada, 1965.

CAPT I.H.S Cartwright inspects a model of the Tartar missile carried by HMAS Perth. 

In all, Perth (II) steamed over 149,000 miles on active service during the Vietnam War, fired some 30,711 five-inch rounds and came under fire on five occasions. More information on HMAS Perth's deployment to Vietnam can be found in the publication 'Australia's Navy in Vietnam' -

HMAS Perth entering Sydney Harbour following her deployment to Vietman, 1969
HMAS Perth (II) returning to Sydney Harbour following her deployment to Vietnam, 1969.

Perth (II) had a tremendous career that spanned 34 years in periods of both conflict and of peace. There were many notable highlights following her days on the Vietnam gun-line. In 1973 Perth (II) made a notable good will visit to Massawa in Ethiopia where His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie, dined on board. In July 1974 she sailed for her first modernisation at Long Beach, California where the new Naval Combat Data System (NCDS) was fitted along with new gun mounts and the upgrading of the missile fire control system. In 1978 Perth (II) took part in the independence celebrations of Tuvalu (formerly known as the Ellice Islands) and in 1979-80 she underwent another major refit and was converted to burn diesel instead of furnace fuel oil. She completed two deployments to the North West Indian Ocean patrolling the Arabian Sea during the Iran-Iraq war in 1981 (with the USS Ranger Battle Group) and in 1982 with the USS John F Kennedy Battle Group. 

HMAS Perth ships company’s seamanship was put to the test in October 1985, when the Singaporean registered M.V. Hoe Lien made radio contact reporting that her cargo had shifted in rough seas, causing the ship to list dangerously. The nearby port of Newcastle was declared closed due to the inclement weather, and the Hoe Lien was instructed to make for Sydney. Perth was released from her tasking to standby Hoe Lien during the passage. Unfortunately, the wild weather and rough seas caused the Hoe Lien’s deck cargo to further move, dangerously increasing the list and affecting the vessel’s stability. The master of Hoe Lien declared a ‘mayday’ announcing his intention to abandon ship. The Captain of HMAS Perth, Commander Graham Sloper, manoeuvred Perth as close as possible to the stricken vessel, and a life raft was released to assist the Hoe Lien’s crew. With the assistance of Perth’s boat's crew, the crew of Hoe Lien was transferred to the Newcastle police launch Doyle. The Hoe Lien crew was safe, but the ordeal was far from over, as the stricken freighter still needed to be cleared from the Newcastle anchorage area. Time was of the essence as both ships were within the anchorage coming within 300 yards of a bulk carrier. Despite the arduous conditions, Perth’s boarding party was put onboard Hoe Lien, successfully securing a tow. After recovering the boarding party Perth began towing Hoe Lien to the south. Early the next morning the tug Wonga appeared on the scene, and HMAS Perth’s boarding party was called into action once again. They reboarded the dangerously listing Hoe Lien to secure Wonga’s tow line and recover Perth’s towing hawser. The Wonga then began towing Hoe Lien stern first to Sydney. Unfortunately by then Hoe Lien had taken on too much water, eventually rolling on her starboard beam and sinking stern first. Her final resting place is in eighty fathoms of water, an agonizing 30 miles from reaching the safety of Sydney. HMAS Perth returned to Sydney for refuelling before returning to her tasking. 

HMAS Perth (II) was involved in a high seas rescue of the stricken Singaporean freighter 'Hoe Lien' in 1985. 

She commenced her second modernisation in February 1987 which included major upgrades of her search radar, NCDS, gun systems, communications equipment and modification of the Mk 13 launcher. Perth (II) visited Egypt and Greece in 1991 to mark the 50th anniversary of the evacuation of Commonwealth troops from Greece and Crete, during World War II, before sailing to New Zealand later that year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the RNZN. She regularly led many ships, as the Navy's senior destroyer, to a multitude of countries and oceans, including the 1997 visit to the Chinese naval port of Qingdao.

HMAS Perth in company with her sister ships, HMA Ships Brisbane and Hobart
HMAS Perth (II) in company with her sister ships, HMA Ships Brisbane (41) and Hobart (39).

In her final operational deployment in 1999 Perth (II) commanded six Australian ships as head of Task Group 627.5 and Perth (II) visited the islands of Guam and Saipan; ventured to Corregidor Island at the entrance to Manila Bay; engaged in some unscheduled manoeuvres with the Chinese Navy and chased pirates and smugglers. Many members journeyed to Hellfire Pass and Kanchanaburi during the ship's Bangkok visit and a deeply moving memorial service was held over the wreck site of Perth (I) in Sunda Strait. Perth (II) also conducted the first visit of an Australian warship to Vietnam, since Australia's withdrawal of forces in 1972, when she visited Ho Chi Minh City which coincided with Anzac Day. In her final voyage to Australian ports the privilege of the freedom of entry to the city of Perth was exercised for the last time.

In her 34 year commission, HMAS Perth steamed over one million miles for the Royal Australian Navy
In her 34 year commission, HMAS Perth (II) steamed over one million miles for the Royal Australian Navy.

Over 7000 officers and sailors served in Perth (II) during her period of service. She steamed over one million miles during her career and she won numerous fleet awards for excellence; including the prestigious Duke of Gloucester's Cup, in 1981, as the most proficient ship in the Fleet. Perth (II) had grace, speed and power, and the capacity to turn heads with her fine lines and is fondly remembered as one of Navy's quiet achievers.

In 2001 Perth (II) was sunk as a dive site near Albany, Western Australia.

HMAS Perth's ship's company ceremoniously leaving the ship for the last time
HMAS Perth's ship's company ceremoniously leaving the ship for the last time.

Commanding Officers of HMAS Perth (II)

CAPT I.H.S Cartwright  17 July 1965 11 July 1966
CAPT P.H. Doyle 11 July 1966 10 April 1968
CAPT D.W. Leach CBE 15 April 1968 2 June 1969
CMDR D.H. Thomson AM 2 June 1969 9 January 1970
CAPT I.M. Burnside 9 January 1970 14 November 1971
LCDR M.R. Freeman 14 November 1971 30 November 1971
CAPT H.R. Percy 1 December 1971 28 May 1973
CAPT I.H. Nicholson  29 May 1973 8 February 1974
CAPT P.J. Hutson ADC 9 February 1974 15 May 1976
CAPT E.E. Johnston AM, OBE, ADC 15 May 1976 5 January 1978
CAPT H.P. Berger MVO 6 January 1978 6 January 1980
CAPT A.R. Cummins AM 29 January 1980 18 November 1981
CMDR D.B. Chalmers 18 November 1981 27 September 1982
CMDR J.E. Parsons 27 September 1982 8 November 1982
CMDR D.B. Chalmers 8 November 1982 13 March 1983
CMDR I.E. Pfennigwerth 13 March 1983 19 December 1984
CMDR G.V. Sloper 19 December 1984 14 January 1986
CAPT L.M. Sulman 14 January 1986 7 January 1987
CMDR I.A. Whitehouse  8 January 1987 9 December 1987
CMDR M.C. Smith 9 December 1987 31 May 1989
CAPT C.J. Oxenbould 1 June 1989 28 September 1990
CMDR P.J. Purnell-Webb 28 September 1990 22 October 1990
CAPT T.H. Cox AM 22 October 1990 15 February 1992
CAPT G.R. Walpole 15 February 1992 7 June 1993
CAPT R.E. Shalders CSC 7 June 1993 17 August 1994
CMDR A.P.S. Ladomirski 17 August 1994 16 January 1995
CAPT G.F. Smith AM 16 January 1995 17 July 1996
CAPT B.D. Robertson 17 July 1996 14 April 1998
CAPT L.J. Rago 14 April 1998 15 October 1999

HMAS Perth (II) Commendations

HMAS Perth's ship's company receiving their United States Navy Unit Commendation, 1969
HMAS Perth's ship's company recieving their United States Navy Unit Commendation, 1969.

Citation for HMAS Perth (II) (United States Navy Unit Commendation)

The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in Commending HMAS Perth (II) (D38) for Services set forth in the following:

For Exceptionally Meritorious Service from 9 September 1967 to 5 April 1968 in the planning and execution of combat missions against enemy aggressor forces in direct support of Free World Objectives. While operating as a unit of the US Seventh Fleet, HMAS Perth delivered extensive, destructive naval gunfire again enemy supply routes, coastal defense sites, troop concentrations, and fortified positions in both North and South Vietnam. The prowess and teamwork displayed by the personnel of Perth were uniformly characterized by personal valor, professional acumen, and individual initiative. Although often within the range of enemy coastal defense sites, Perth quickly responded with skill and resourcefulness, silencing enemy batteries while manoeuvring adroitly to avoid sustaining any damage or injury to herself. As an element of Task Unit 70.8.9 HMAS Perth provided Naval Gunfire Support for United States and Allied Forces ashore in the Republic of Vietnam, and as an element of Task Group 77.1 in the Gulf of Tonkin, supported Naval Operations against North Vietnamese logistics groups and lines of communications. The tenacity, professionalism, and dedication demonstrated by the officers and men of Perth reflect great credit upon themselves and the Royal Australian Navy.

Citation for HMAS Perth (II) (United States Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation)

The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in presenting the Meritorious Unit Commendation to HMAS Perth (D38) for service as set forth in the following:

For meritorious service from 24 September, 1968 to March 1969 while participating in combat operations against enemy aggressor forces in South East Asia. As a member of the United States Seventh Fleet assigned to SEA DRAGON operations, HMAS Perth contributed significantly to Seventh Fleet combat operations by conducting numerous successful fire missions against heavily defended enemy logistic installations and lines of communications. When Perth was engaged by enemy shore batteries on two occasions, the combination of her crew members' spirited teamwork and capable leadership produced quick and precise evasive action to spare the ship any material or personnel casualties. Perth's high accurate fire inflicted heavy losses on enemy assets and was instrumental in assuring the success of allied operations wherever she was stationed. The outstanding performance, superlative accomplishments, and inspiring devotion to duty displayed by the officers and men of HMAS Perth throughout her deployment, reflect credit upon themselves and the Royal Australian Navy.