Vendetta file photo [8059]

HMAS Vendetta

CountryAustralia
Ship ClassV and W-class Destroyer
BuilderFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Laid Down25 Nov 1916
Launched3 Sep 1917
Commissioned11 Oct 1933
Decommissioned27 Dec 1945
Displacement1090 tons standard
Length312 feet
Beam30 feet
Draft10 feet
MachineryBrown-Curtis steam turbines, two screws
Power Output27000 SHP
Speed34 knots
Crew130
Armament4x102mm QF 4in MK. V guns, 2x40mm QF 2-pdr Mk. II guns, 1x.303 Vickers gun, 4x.303 Lewis guns, 2x3x21in torpedo tubes, 50 depth charges
Transferred to RANOct 1933

Contributor:

ww2dbaseThe V/W class destroyers were designed in the early months of 1916, before the Battle of Jutland. Vendetta was placed in the 13th Destroyer Division on 17 October 1917, which was mostly composed of V and W class destroyers. They were easily the best class of destroyer in the world in 1917-18 in terms of armament and seaworthiness. Before the end of the First World War, Vendetta engaged two German minesweepers in the Kattegat. On 17 November 1917, Vendetta was employed as a screening destroyer in the 1st Light Cruiser Division, and participated in the Heligoland Bight action, against the German cruiser squadron. For the remainder of the war, Vendetta was employed in patrol and escort duties. Eleven days after the armistice, Vendetta went to war again, returning to the 13th Destroyer Division for the first cold war, literally. The tiny Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were promised self-determination under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and at the cessation of hostilities, national governments were formed in these tiny territories. Immediately the Bolshevik leader of Russia, Lenin, repudiated the treaty, and intended to transform the Baltic into a Russian sea, liberating the states surrounding it. Bolshevik armies were sent to carry out this "liberation" of the Baltic states. German garrisons in cities along the Baltic coast planned to capture the territories of the republics in order to keep them out of Bolshevik hands. In light of these overwhelming forces, the British government considered a naval action short of war necessary in the Baltic if Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were to retain their autonomy. The Admiralty was instructed to send a fleet of destroyers and light cruisers to the Baltic. They sent the 4th Light Cruiser Division, and the 13th Destroyer Division, under the command of Rear Admiral Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair. The aims of the expedition were to show the British flag and promote British policy in the region, engage Soviet men-of-war operating along the Baltic coasts, and ensure British supplies & arms safely arrive in the newly formed Baltic nations. The northern winter was so cold that the Admiralty decided that crews serving in the Baltic should be replaced every six weeks, the cold was most bitter upon the destroyers. Captain Charles G. Ramsey, senior officer aboard Vendetta, discovered that the winter and a disgruntled ship's company made for an unhappy ship. Vendetta was involved in an action with two Bolshevik vessels, examples of modern destroyer design. Vendetta sent prize crews to board each, and the ships were renamed, and donated to the Estonian Navy, becoming a significant portion of their first three vessels. When the post-war A class became available to the Royal Navy in 1930, they were only larger versions of the V/Ws. In 1933 four V/Ws, one of which was Vendetta, were loaned to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with their flotilla leader, Stuart. It was not until the Tribal class appeared in 1938 that any significant improvement was made on destroyer design over the V/Ws. The Admiralty asked the Australian government on 16 October 1939 if the destroyer flotilla on loan to the RAN since 1933 could serve outside Australian waters, eventually rendering invaluable service in the Mediterranean. By 1940 the V/Ws were obsolete, and machinery breakdowns were common. Seamen of the British Commonwealth serving in the Mediterranean referred to the Australian V/Ws as "Crocks" or, as they were part of the 10th Destroyer Division, "the Wobbly 10th". Despite their age they performed escort and patrol tasks in the Mediterranean, thus freeing more modern British destroyers to counter the U-boat threat in the Atlantic. However, it was in a land support role, in which the Australian destroyer flotilla earned its most well-known name. As the Australian destroyers participated in the "Tobruk Ferry", supplying the Commonwealth defenders of the strategic port fortress, the German propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, gave the Australian flotilla of destroyers the derogatory name "the Scrap Iron Flotilla". HMAS Vendetta made 39 runs to Tobruk herself. Setting out from Alexandria on her first run on 29 May 1941 with 150 troops and 25 tons of stores, continuing until 2 August, eventually embarking for passage between Tobruk and Alexandria 4,263 troops, 220 prisoners-of-war, and 616 tons of stores & ammunition. In terms of men, it took 2951 fresh troops to Tobruk, and 1552 wounded troops out of it and transported them to Alexandria. On 11 July HMAS Vendetta and HMS Defender were spotted in the moonlight on the way from Tobruk to Alexandria by German bombers, who attacked. Vendetta avoided damage, but Defender was hit and the resulting explosion broke her back, but she was lost, despite Vendetta's attempts to tow her to safety. Vendetta was in continual service on the Tobruk Ferry between the last week of May until the first week of August. All the ships of the Scrap Iron Flotilla made a combined total of 139 runs of the Tobruk Ferry service between them. Vendetta arrived in Alexandria for the last time on 13 October, and left the Mediterranean with severe engine difficulty, having operated at maximum speeds on the runs to and from Tobruk. She had been in the Mediterranean for two years. In light of her amount of service to and from Tobruk, she was sent to Singapore for refit right after HMAS Vampire, whose need for refit due to poor condition was much more urgent. When Vendetta arrived at Singapore in early November, war with Japan was 25 days away, but Singapore was a lot more peaceful at the time than the Mediterranean was before Vendetta had left. She entered King's Dry Dock on 12 November 1941, and soon there were workers continuously swarmed all over her. The next day ship's crew took some well-deserved leave. Crew remaining with the ship performed vital tasks, as the pieces of Vendetta accumulating on the dockside outweighed the ship remaining in the dock. War with Japan became more obvious as the volume of troopships seeking passage through the waters surrounding Singapore increased. Also obvious was the increased amount of Japanese planes in the skies above Singapore. On 8 December 1941, the Japanese bombed Singapore. A bomber flew close to Vendetta and dropped its payload, resulting in a cluster of bombs landing approximately halfway between the ship and Ghost Island, two hundred yards to the port bow. Stripped of her guns, Vendetta was a sitting duck for any Japanese bomber that happened to fly overhead. One of the ship's officers was ordered to organise defences for the defenceless vessel in the dock. Vendetta's machine guns and a 12-pound gun were mounted on the wharf adjacent to Vendetta. The ship refit took a long time, because the workers would scurry away at the first sound of an air raid siren. Other ships also came to the dock for repair. Ships that could move under their own steam took priority, and at that stage Vendetta needed towing if she was to move. On New Year's Eve 1942, Vendetta's crew witnessed their first Japanese massed air raid, 54 bombers launched an assault on Singapore. 21 January saw the heaviest blitz on the fortress, with 125 Japanese bombers bombarding the imperial fortress and its naval base. Vendetta, with all her guns refitted, was prepared for the attack, and hit a Japanese bomber's bombrack with her high angle 12-pound gun, blowing the aircraft to smithereens. The ship's log observed "The whole of the gun crew acted in a most praiseworthy manner". The siege of Singapore was approaching, but Vendetta would, fortunately, not be present to experience it. On 2 February she was taken in tow by the tug boat, HMT St Just, to rendezvous with HMS Stronghold. A few miles out of Keppel Harbour a squadron of 54 Japanese planes flew overhead to bomb the city, causing heavy damage to the dock Vendetta had occupied only hours previously. The three ships, having undertaken their journey, was hounded by eleven Japanese aircraft. Between a hundred and 120 bombs were observed falling around the three Allied vessels. None struck the ships, but Tokyo radio falsely reported their destruction that evening. Later in the day Stronghold took over the towing duties. Japanese aircraft attacked the ships at regular intervals, at which point Vendetta's HA 12-pound gun barked at the enemy planes in defiance. While the Allied ships were hit by debris, neither vessel was wounded. Vendetta arrived in Batavia on 10 February, remaining until the requisitioned Shanghai ferry of 3,105 tons, HMAS Ping Wo, began the long haul to Australia on 17 February, with HMAS Yarra escorting. HMAS Adelaide took over escorting duties on 24 February. Vendetta reached Freemantle on 3 March. The crew took some well-deserved leave in Freemantle, the first Australian city they had been in since fighting a war in the Mediterranean. It would be six days before they were reunited with Vendetta. The day after Vendetta's arrival in Freemantle the tug Whyalla towed Vendetta out of the harbour while Ping Wo had engine repairs. Ping Wo was assigned the towing duties for the long journey across the Great Australian Bight, she collected Vendetta at Rottnest Island, then returned to Freemantle to collect the crew on leave on 9 March. Shortly after beginning the journey Ping Wo, despite her recent engine repairs, experienced machinery difficulty. Her captain believed that with emergency repairs immediately, Ping Wo would reach Albany, which she did, albeit slowly. The two ships arrived off Albany on 14 March. Altogether the journey from Freemantle to Albany took five days and five hours, by the time they arrived in the port a gale was blowing and Vedetta was rolling and drifting on the tow. It was clear that under these conditions Ping Wo could not be expected to tow Vendetta the length of the Bight. On the morning of 24 March the 1598 ton vessel, SS Islander, arrived in Albany and it was decided that she would assist Ping Wo in towing Vendetta eastwards towards Melbourne. Islander departed in the direction of King George Sound and Ping Wo followed with Vendetta in tow to rendezvous with SS Islander at King George Sound later on 24 March. As Islander and Ping Wo shared the tow the entire length of the Great Australian Bight the wind howled and the seas were rough, making Vendetta roll badly. The tow broke away five times during the journey. A faulty chain broke on the tow attached to Islander, causing Vendetta's only casualty during her trip from Singapore to Australia. Ping Wo had to resume the solitary towing duty while Islander retrieved her tow cable, enabling Ping Wo to bob and bounce in an easterly direction, blown ahead of the wind like a lost surfboard. Islander towed Vendetta herself until a tug from Port Adelaide met them off the coast of South Australia, and towed both ships to the port city, arriving in Adelaide on 10 April. Resuming the tow, Islander took Vendetta on the final leg of her arduous journey, to Melbourne. Arriving in Port Phillip Bay on 15 April, concluding her journey across the Bight, which was undertaken under tow in heavy seas. During the five times the tow parted Vendetta was at the mercy of the sea and wind. With no power the entire journey, and no adequate arrangements for refrigeration, the crew had to resort to tinned food to sustain themselves, without adequate sanitary arrangements. The journey across the Bight took forty days, while the trevail from Singapore to Melbourne took approximately 72 days. For his part in this ordeal the senior officer aboard Vendetta, Lieutenant Whitting, received the Distinguished Service Cross. Vendetta had an extensive refit in Melbourne between April and September 1942. She was recommissioned at Melbourne on 29 September under the command of Commander C. J. Stephenson, RAN. On 14 October she proceeded to Sydney, finally pressing ahead under her own steam. Here she resumed her refit, which was not completed until mid-December. During January 1943 she was based in Brisbane, on escort duty in Queensland waters. On 10 February she travelled to Milne Bay, escorting transports. In May Vendetta was assigned to destroyer transport, carrying 501 troops and 53 tons of stores to Madang between 1 and 6 May 1943. On 2 June, Vendetta returned to Milne Bay for a few days exercising. During 1944 Vendetta was kept occupied with escort duties and anti-submarine patrols. On 9 January 1945 Vendetta bombarded three unspecified targets in the Anumb River area in New Guinea with 206 rounds of 4-inch ammunition, she then relieved HMAS Katoomba on an anti-submarine patrol. On 13 May she set out for Brisbane for a refit. While still in dockyard hands in Brisbane, Leiutenant W. K. Tapp assumed command of Vendetta on 31 May 1945. After the refit was completed on 18 August, Vendetta underwent trials, and completed her war service in New Guinea waters until the end of August. She served in the waters of New Britain until 11 September, when she returned to Madang. She then set a course for Brisbane, then Sydney. When Vendetta slipped from her mooring at Garden Island on 5 October, she moved under her own steam for the last time to secure to Cruiser Wharf, Garden Island. In her total service during the Pacific war Vendetta had steamed 120,639 miles under her own power. Vendetta was paid off for disposal on 27 November 1945. She was sold to Penguin Pty Ltd, Sydney on 20 March 1946. Her hull was scuttled off Sydney Heads on 2 July 1948.

ww2dbaseSources: L. J. Lind and A. Payne, Scrap Iron Destroyers: The Story of HMA Ships Stuart, Waterhen, Vampire, Vendetta, and Voyager, Royal Australian Navy, D. Stevens (ed.), The Royal Australian Navy in World War II, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: May 2009

HMAS Vendetta Operational Timeline

11 Oct 1933 Vendetta was commissioned into service.
27 Dec 1945 Vendetta was decommissioned from service.




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Event(s) Participated:
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