Sea transport and logistical support of the Australian land based forces in Vietnam is acknowledged in recent historical compendiums as the most significant contribution made by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to the Australian military commitment in Vietnam. However, previous studies have only paid brief attention to the vital part played by HMAS Sydney and other units of the RAN involved in the logistical support role, and none of these earlier works have undertaken a detailed consideration of the nature and tactical importance of sea transport and logistical support. The perceived absence of enemy threat was the prime factor influencing the Federal Government’s specious decision to exclude from benefits and entitlements, those that served in Sydney, Jeparit and Boonaroo, and the warships that escorted the troop transport into, what could only be described as a war zone. This decision, the thesis shows, was a flawed one, and it can only be concluded that it was made on the basis of inaccurate information. Moreover, while Sydney and her escort were at anchor, not only were they vulnerable to an enemy well versed in unconventional guerrilla warfare, but all who served in these ships were also exposed to highly toxic herbicides used to defoliate the nearby landscape, via the residue of this procedure which flowed into the rivers and streams. Due to the processes used in those times in the production of potable drinking water, the dioxins contained in the distillate were enriched making them much more potent and deadly. This dissertation identifies and dispels some of the myths which have developed around the importance of sea transport and logistical support and argues for a new appreciation of the service of the many members of the RAN who participated in this vitally important task.
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