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Author Topic: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan  (Read 20563 times)

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« on: November 28, 2009, 12:39:53 am »
In 1964 the Royal Australian Navy made a submission to the government leadership to replace the Majestic class light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and its then air wing of four Sea Venom all weather fighters, six Gannets ASW aircraft and 12 Wessex ASW helicopters. The useful life of the Melbourne and its air wing was expected to expire by 1967 and without replacement or upgrading the Navy’s carrier capability would go with it. The Navy’s submission took into account the growing military power of Indonesia that had introduced several key Soviet systems and her increasing belligerence (at that time) along with that of China. It looked at various practical methods of replacing the Melbourne and air wing and made appropriate recommendations.

The Navy’s preferred replacement path for the Melbourne was to acquire from the US Navy a second hand Essex class carrier that would be upgraded to the same level as the USS Oriskany with angled flight deck and British steam catapults. The new carrier’s air wing would comprise 16 F-4B Phantom strike fighters, 12 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, four E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, 16 Wessex ASW helicopters and two Sycamore SAR helicopters. The new carrier and air wing was expected to be fully operational by 1969 and a detailed plan for acquisition, including supporting equipment and personnel growth was provided. The entire cost of the new carrier acquisition was given as 150 million Australian pounds including a 10% contingency. This is the equivalent to 3.4 billion of today’s Australian dollars. The carrier and air wing would be expected to give a life of 15-18 years.

In the end the Government decided to spend a lot less than £150 million and refitted the Melbourne (£4 millioN) for another 10 years of life and purchased new aircraft for an air wing of four A-4G Skyhawk light fighters, six S-2E Trackers and 10 Wessex.

The detailed submission is now public via the National Archives of Australia and a .pdf version can be downloaded at:

http://www.t5c.biz/aat5cmisc/RAN_Replacement_CV.pdf
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 01:19:45 am by overscan »
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Offline starviking

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 09:32:52 am »
Interesting.

Discussion in the document ties in with the statement in Brown & Moore's Rebuilding the Royal Navy that

"in April 1964 there were even thoughts that the Royal Australian Navy would buy one of the class (CVA01)"

Offline Geoff_B

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2009, 12:41:38 am »
Interesting reading, although the conclusion to go for a modernised Essex greatly depended on the actual material condition of the surplus hulls available for conversion.

The other ionteresting bit is the assumption that the Oriskany version would be able to operate Phantoms. Didnt't the USN decide that whilst possible for a Phantom to take off and land it was only just within safety margins and thus impractical for the F-4B/J ?.

Would the RAN have therfore had to go with the RN Spey toom or possibly even go with the F-4HL ?

G

Offline colombamike

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2009, 02:34:37 am »
In 1964 the Royal Australian Navy made a submission to the government leadership to replace the Majestic class light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne .

The Navy’s preferred replacement path for the Melbourne was to acquire from the US Navy a second hand Essex class carrier that would be upgraded to the same level as the USS Oriskany with angled flight deck and British steam catapults. The new carrier’s air wing would comprise 16 F-4B Phantom strike fighters, 12 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, four E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, 16 Wessex ASW helicopters and two Sycamore SAR helicopters. The new carrier and air wing was expected to be fully operational by 1969 and a detailed plan for acquisition, including supporting equipment and personnel growth was provided.
http://www.t5c.biz/aat5cmisc/RAN_Replacement_CV.pdf

yes, very interesting project
but i think that the manpower required to operate a essex CV (2/2500 sailors), were too considerable for the RAN Navy
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Offline TinWing

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2009, 12:45:59 pm »
In 1964 the Royal Australian Navy made a submission to the government leadership to replace the Majestic class light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and its then air wing of four Sea Venom all weather fighters, six Gannets ASW aircraft and 12 Wessex ASW helicopters. The useful life of the Melbourne and its air wing was expected to expire by 1967 and without replacement or upgrading the Navy’s carrier capability would go with it. The Navy’s submission took into account the growing military power of Indonesia that had introduced several key Soviet systems and her increasing belligerence (at that time) along with that of China. It looked at various practical methods of replacing the Melbourne and air wing and made appropriate recommendations.

The Navy’s preferred replacement path for the Melbourne was to acquire from the US Navy a second hand Essex class carrier that would be upgraded to the same level as the USS Oriskany with angled flight deck and British steam catapults. The new carrier’s air wing would comprise 16 F-4B Phantom strike fighters, 12 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, four E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, 16 Wessex ASW helicopters and two Sycamore SAR helicopters. The new carrier and air wing was expected to be fully operational by 1969 and a detailed plan for acquisition, including supporting equipment and personnel growth was provided. The entire cost of the new carrier acquisition was given as 150 million Australian pounds including a 10% contingency. This is the equivalent to 3.4 billion of today’s Australian dollars. The carrier and air wing would be expected to give a life of 15-18 years.

In the end the Government decided to spend a lot less than £150 million and refitted the Melbourne (£4 millioN) for another 10 years of life and purchased new aircraft for an air wing of four A-4G Skyhawk light fighters, six S-2E Trackers and 10 Wessex.

The detailed submission is now public via the National Archives of Australia and a .pdf version can be downloaded at:

http://www.t5c.biz/aat5cmisc/RAN_Replacement_CV.pdf

The rationale for 1964 carrier studies disappeared with the change of government in Indonesia in 1965.  With Sukarno out, and Soviet ties broken, it was clear that Australia wouldn't face an immediate naval threat to the north.  Within a few years, the Soviet supplied Indonesian fleet was largely inoperable.

It is quite telling that the original archive contains a page revealing the real motivations for a larger carrier, a rather shameful piece describing Australia as "the only European country in the South East Asia region."

Here is the page below:




Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2009, 02:35:06 pm »
The rationale for 1964 carrier studies disappeared with the change of government in Indonesia in 1965.  With Sukarno out, and Soviet ties broken, it was clear that Australia wouldn't face an immediate naval threat to the north.  Within a few years, the Soviet supplied Indonesian fleet was largely inoperable.

In part and completely unpredictable from the viewpoint of 1964. Would be like arguing that NATO countries should have ended all defence acquisitions in 1986-88 because the Berlin Wall would fall in 1989…

The Navy was also worried about being increasingly involved in Vietnam (which came true) and the growing power and belligerence of China (true as well). Plus the fundamental issue of needing a new carrier in order to sustain their carrier capability.

Like many Australian acquisitions in the early 1960s (including the F-111) a SCB-125A carrier and Phantom/Tracker air wing would have came too late for when it was really needed: in 1962-66 to counter Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia and invasion of West Papua. Therein lies the problem of strategic foresight and convincing the purse holders to spend early and not late.

It is quite telling that the original archive contains a page revealing the real motivations for a larger carrier, a rather shameful piece describing Australia as "the only European country in the South East Asia region."

Ahh and Australia remains the only country with a majority European population in SEA… Is this shameful?

Obviously the belief that this would lead to Australia being ostracized has been proven wrong by events. But in the 1960s where racial policies still governed many nations actions it is a typical statement. During the 1960s Indonesia murdered over a million Chinese and disenfranchised the Papuans, Malaysia implemented a political system prejudiced against the Chinese, the Phillipines launched campaigns against their Muslim Malays, etc, etc.

To judge past events with the benefit of hindsight and more enlightened social understandings is truly foolish. Might as well condem Edward I for purging Engliand of the Jews in the 13th Century.
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Offline TinWing

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2009, 10:21:06 pm »
The rationale for 1964 carrier studies disappeared with the change of government in Indonesia in 1965.  With Sukarno out, and Soviet ties broken, it was clear that Australia wouldn't face an immediate naval threat to the north.  Within a few years, the Soviet supplied Indonesian fleet was largely inoperable.

In part and completely unpredictable from the viewpoint of 1964. Would be like arguing that NATO countries should have ended all defence acquisitions in 1986-88 because the Berlin Wall would fall in 1989…

The Navy was also worried about being increasingly involved in Vietnam (which came true) and the growing power and belligerence of China (true as well). Plus the fundamental issue of needing a new carrier in order to sustain their carrier capability.

Like many Australian acquisitions in the early 1960s (including the F-111) a SCB-125A carrier and Phantom/Tracker air wing would have came too late for when it was really needed: in 1962-66 to counter Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia and invasion of West Papua. Therein lies the problem of strategic foresight and convincing the purse holders to spend early and not late.

It's entirely clear that substantial foreign intervention against Indonesia in the years preceding the 1965 coup would have shifted events in favor of the PKI.  As it turned out, Indonesia was not only neutralized as a potential threat by the accession of Suharto, but actually became a western ally.  In the end, the same would be true of China after some remarkable Nixon era diplomacy. 

That of course leaves the issue of South Vietnam, where Australian did indeed intervene.  It's clear that the Australian role in that conflict was not decisive in any respect, with or without a single Australian carrier at "Dixie Station."


It is quite telling that the original archive contains a page revealing the real motivations for a larger carrier, a rather shameful piece describing Australia as "the only European country in the South East Asia region."

Ahh and Australia remains the only country with a majority European population in SEA… Is this shameful?

Obviously the belief that this would lead to Australia being ostracized has been proven wrong by events. But in the 1960s where racial policies still governed many nations actions it is a typical statement. During the 1960s Indonesia murdered over a million Chinese and disenfranchised the Papuans, Malaysia implemented a political system prejudiced against the Chinese, the Phillipines launched campaigns against their Muslim Malays, etc, etc.

Even by the standards of the Johnson era, the document in question does possess racist overtones.  In many respects, the Australia psyche was shaped by the events of 1942, such as the bombing of Darwin, so it hardly comes as a surprise that subsequent defense policy was a product of a somewhat misguided paranoia, with a particularly eccentric focus on Indonesia.
 
To judge past events with the benefit of hindsight and more enlightened social understandings is truly foolish. Might as well condem Edward I for purging Engliand of the Jews in the 13th Century.

Edward I is indeed universally condemned today for the Edict of Expulsion, an act that was very obviously counterproductive even at the time.  Of course, none of this is relevant to this forum?

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2009, 10:31:49 pm »
Well, leaving aside the fact they seem to have forgotten the existence of a second European country in the near vicinity (New Zealand - perhaps its too far from the Asia mainland to count?) I don't see anything at all "shameful" in this statement.
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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2009, 10:46:59 pm »
It's entirely clear that substantial foreign intervention against Indonesia in the years preceding the 1965 coup would have shifted events in favor of the PKI.  As it turned out, Indonesia was not only neutralized as a potential threat by the accession of Suharto, but actually became a western ally.  In the end, the same would be true of China after some remarkable Nixon era diplomacy.

Which is why the UK, the Netherlands and Australia never had any intent to intervene in Indonesia’s internal affairs. However they did have strong desire to stop Indonesia attacking its neighbours. In order to do that required military force. Fortunately the application of this force dissuaded Indonesia from escalating their Confrontation. But if they had escalated and as the geographically centered and aggressor element in this conflict they could have chosen where to apply their conventional military force. Outside of the presence of any RN fleet carrier and the RAF/RAAF strike units on the Malay peninsula and Darwin area the Indonesians would have had air-sea superiority. Also their new fleet of Soviet fast submarines were a far greater threat than the WW2 type submarines the RAN was prepared to fight. Which is why the RAN wanted to upgrade its aircraft carrier and is laid out in some detail in the report linked to above.

That of course leaves the issue of South Vietnam, where Australian did indeed intervene.  It's clear that the Australian role in that conflict was not decisive in any respect, with or without a single Australian carrier at "Dixie Station."

Australia’s involvement in VietNam was not precluded on being “decisive”. It was to meet regional security obligations and to be of a meaningful assistance rather than pure tokenism.

When it came to deploying the RAN’s aircraft carrier the USN actually requested the deployment of Melbourne onto the Yankee Station before the end of the Rolling Thunder attacks on the North (‘69). Yankee Station was deficient in ASW coverage and the Melbourne was seen as useful gapful. However the RAN belayed the deployment because Melbourne could only stay online at Yankee Station for 10 days due to its deficient stores and maintenance capability compared to the 31 day station periods used by USN carriers.

Even by the standards of the Johnson era, the document in question does possess racist overtones.  In many respects, the Australia psyche was shaped by the events of 1942, such as the bombing of Darwin, so it hardly comes as a surprise that subsequent defense policy was a product of a somewhat misguided paranoia, with a particularly eccentric focus on Indonesia. 

And Johnson’s involvement in Australian politics was? Australia’s psyche was not shaped by 1942, only an ignorant foreigner educated by Baz Lurhman’s incredibly poor depiction of 1930s/40s “Australia” could make such a poor call. WW2 was actually crucial to the withering away of systematic Australian anti-Asian racism.

Rather than being misguided paranoia or racist the statement in the report is entirely realistic and feasible. It takes a dash of the worst of 21st century post modernist anti-racism screeching in which any mention of “European ethnicity” as a distinct identity is somehow seen as bordering on Nazi Aryan supremacy beliefs to portray this report in such a light.

In 1964 Indonesia was half way through an eight year campaign of the most strident vitriol against the creation of Malaysia as a “British colonial entity”, VietNam was fighting the world’s greatest power to drive out the last vestiges of French colonialism and the new vestiges of American colonialism from the South, China was launching the cultural revolution to destroy all Chinese “tainted” by European influence, India was striving to create a global non-aligned movement as a counter to European and American influence. In the light of such post colonial activities is it racist to make the call that anti-European and American resentment may be directed towards Australia? Especially that an increasingly radical Indonesia stymied in their attempts to destroy Malaysia may turn the same vitriol against Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Fortunately the belief was found wrong as in most cases the post colonial anti-western movements were in the main simply miss-direction from power grabbing dictators who meet their appropriate demise. And despite American heavy handedness in VietNam they proved much better friends to people all around the world than anyone else.
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Offline Harrier

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2009, 08:10:38 am »
This may also explain the diagram I have seen of the Hawker Siddeley P.1154 and how it would 'fit' on a Majestic class carrier, the one in the diagram being, as far as I could tell, Melbourne.

It was not the P.1154 RN, but rather the final RAF version, which would place it after February 1964. The RAF version was designed to fit Majestic-class lifts.

If I see it again I'll try to scan it.

Regarding the files on the RAF P.1154 the argument in its favour I saw from Solly Zuckermann etc. were couched in shockingly racist terms. Basically it was required to be supersonic to counter 'locals' (not the word used in the files!) "with Migs", i.e. Mig 19/21, in SE Asia (P.1154 was intended for FEAF, so I had assumed the diagram of a Majestic class related to this) and Middle East. It was clear that there was a belief still in the swinging sixties that 'the white man' must not be outdone by 'natives' (again, not the words used!).
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 08:20:34 am by harrier »
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Offline JFC Fuller

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 09:03:23 am »
This may also explain the diagram I have seen of the Hawker Siddeley P.1154 and how it would 'fit' on a Majestic class carrier, the one in the diagram being, as far as I could tell, Melbourne.

It was not the P.1154 RN, but rather the final RAF version, which would place it after February 1964. The RAF version was designed to fit Majestic-class lifts.

If I see it again I'll try to scan it.

Regarding the files on the RAF P.1154 the argument in its favour I saw from Solly Zuckermann etc. were couched in shockingly racist terms. Basically it was required to be supersonic to counter 'locals' (not the word used in the files!) "with Migs", i.e. Mig 19/21, in SE Asia (P.1154 was intended for FEAF, so I had assumed the diagram of a Majestic class related to this) and Middle East. It was clear that there was a belief still in the swinging sixties that 'the white man' must not be outdone by 'natives' (again, not the words used!).

You appear to be deliberately trying to spin a racist narrative when there is not one. This seem to fit perfectly with western considerations East of Suez in the time frame. The Royal Navy was planning for exactly the same scenario, that was the point behind the CVA-01 fleet configuration. The thought being that formal colonies East of Suez would become Soviet client states and would be provided with the latest Soviet weaponry including nuclear weapons and SSN's. Remember that 1964 is just two years after the Cuban missile crisis. The combination of ideological hatred (communism versus capitalism) and contempt born out of colonial history (just check Zimbabwe today) mixed with the latest Soviet arms and manipulation as part of Soviet grand strategy (still not properly understood at the time) is a concoction that represented a major threat. To call it racist is absurd and offensive and Tinwing owes everyone an apology for his original post.

Offline Harrier

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 09:36:02 am »
I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.



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Offline JFC Fuller

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2009, 11:16:32 am »
I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.

Yes you are, which is why you used a series of words that by your own admission are not even in the files.

Offline Hammer Birchgrove

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2009, 11:36:46 am »
If I would attack 1960's Australia, it would be for its "White Australia"-policy and the treatment of Aborigines, not because Australian politicians and officers of the armed forces wanted to be able to defend their nation from possible and hypothetical threats.

But that's me.
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Offline PaulMM (Overscan)

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Re: Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2009, 11:56:56 am »
I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.

Yes you are, which is why you used a series of words that by your own admission are not even in the files.

Knowing Zuckerman's reputation, I imagine the word he used was less polite than "locals".
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