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HMAS Sydney (FFG 03)

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Title: HMAS Sydney (FFG 03)  
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Subject: Adelaide-class frigate, HMAS Adelaide (FFG 01), Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, Russ Shalders, HMAS Darwin (FFG 04)
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HMAS Sydney (FFG 03)

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) is underway during Pacific Bond 2013
HMAS Sydney underway during Pacific Bond 2013
Namesake: City of Sydney
Builder: Todd Pacific Shipyards, Seattle, Washington
Laid down: 16 January 1980
Launched: 26 September 1980
Commissioned: 29 January 1983
Decommissioned: 7 November 2015 (planned)
Motto: "Thorough and Ready"
Nickname(s): FFG-35 (US hull designation during construction)
Honours and
Status: Active as of 2015
Badge: Ship's badge
General characteristics
Class & type: Adelaide-class guided missile frigate
Displacement: 4,100 tons
Length: 138.1 m (453 ft) overall
Beam: 13.7 m (45 ft)
Draught: 7.5 m (25 ft)
  • 2 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 41,000 horsepower (31,000 kW), 1 shaft
  • 2 × 650-horsepower (480 kW) auxiliary propulsors
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 184 (including 15 officers, not including aircrew)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Aircraft carried: 2 helicopters

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) is an Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The frigate is one of six modified Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates ordered from 1977 onwards, and the third of four to be constructed in the United States of America. Laid down and launched in 1980, Sydney was named for the capital city of New South Wales, and commissioned into the RAN in 1983.

During her operational history, Sydney has been involved in Australian responses to the 1987 Fijian coups d'état and the Bougainville uprising. The frigate has been deployed to the Persian Gulf on five occasions in support of United States operations during the Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and has completed at least two round-the-world voyages.

Sydney was originally expected to remain in service until 2013, but will decommission in November 2015. The frigate will be replaced by a Hobart-class destroyer.


  • Design and construction 1
  • Operational history 2
  • Decommissioning and fate 3
  • Citations 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Design and construction

Following the cancellation of the Australian light destroyer project in 1973, the British Type 42 destroyer and the American Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate were identified as alternatives to replace the cancelled light destroyers and the Daring-class destroyers.[1] Although the Oliver Hazard Perry class was still at the design stage, the difficulty of fitting the Type 42 with the SM-1 missile, and the success of the Perth-class acquisition (a derivative of the American Charles F. Adams-class destroyer) compared to equivalent British designs led the Australian government to approve the purchase of two US-built Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates in 1976.[1][2] A third (Sydney) was ordered in 1977, followed by a fourth, with all four ships integrated into the USN's shipbuilding program.[3][4][5] A further two ships were ordered in 1980, and were constructed in Australia.[4][5]

As designed, the ship had a full load displacement of 3,605 tons, a length overall of 135.6 metres (445 ft), a beam of 13.7 metres (45 ft), and a draught of 24.5 metres (80 ft).[6][7] Starting in February 1989, Sydney was modified from the Oliver Hazard Perry FLIGHT II design to FLIGHT III, requiring a lengthening of the helicopter deck for the RAST helicopter recovery system, increasing displacement to 4,100 tons and pushing the overall length to 138.1 metres (453 ft).[7] Propulsion machinery consists of two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, which provide a combined 41,000 horsepower (31,000 kW) to the single propeller shaft.[7] Top speed is 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph), with a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph).[7] Two 650-horsepower (480 kW) electric auxiliary propulsors are used for close manoeuvring, with a top speed of 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph).[7] Standard ship's company is 184, including 15 officers, but excluding the flight crew for the embarked helicopters.[7] Sydney was the first ship of her class to carry female sailors and officers, requiring the installation of partitioning to some mess decks.[8]

Photograph of a frigate's bow and the front of her superstructure. Two weapons systems can be seen on the forward deck.
Sydney in Vancouver, Canada, in 2007. The 8-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System installed during the FFG Upgrade can be seen forward of the Mark 13 armature missile launcher.

Original armament for the ship consisted of a Mark 13 missile launcher configured to fire RIM-66 Standard and RGM-84 Harpoon missiles, supplemented by an OTO Melara 76-millimetre (3.0 in) gun and a Vulcan Phalanx point-defence system.[6][7] As part of the mid-2000s FFG Upgrade Project, an eight-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System was fitted, with a payload of RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.[9] For anti-submarine warfare, two Mark 32 torpedo tube sets are fitted; originally firing the Mark 44 torpedo, the Adelaides later carried the Mark 46, then the MU90 Impact following the FFG Upgrade.[7][10] Up to six 12.7-millimetre (0.50 in) machine guns can be carried for close-in defence, and since 2005, two M2HB .50 calibre machine guns in Mini Typhoon mounts have been installed when needed for Persian Gulf deployments.[7][11] The sensor suite includes an AN/SPS-49 air search radar, AN/SPS-55 surface search and navigation radar, SPG-60 fire control radar connected to a Mark 92 fire control system, and an AN/SQS-56 hull-mounted sonar.[7] Two helicopters can be embarked: either two S-70B Seahawk or one Seahawk and one AS350B Squirrel.[7]

The last ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry Flight II design, Sydney was laid down at Todd Pacific Shipyards on 16 January 1980.[5][8][12] She was launched on 26 September 1980, and commissioned into the RAN on 29 January 1983.[8][13] During construction, the ship was identified by the United States Navy hull number FFG-35.[5]

Operational history

In May 1987, Sydney visited Fiji, and was alongside in Suva when the first of the 1987 Fijian coups d'état occurred on 14 May.[14] Sydney and sister ship Adelaide, alongside in Lautoka, were instructed to remain off Fiji to aid in any necessary evacuation of Australian citizens; the first component of what became Operation Morris Dance.[14] Sydney remained on station until at least 29 May, when a phased withdrawal began.[14]

Following the acquisition of the Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapon system and the Seahawk helicopter, Sydney underwent a modification refit to be capable of using these weapons.[8] This refit occurred over 1987 and 1988, and also saw the installation of fin stabilisation systems.[8]

Commemorative badge of the 1990 world voyage, on display in the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney.

In January 1990, Sydney, Tobruk, and Jervis Bay were placed on standby to evacuate civilians from Bougainville Island following the Bougainville uprising.[15] Sydney and Tobruk stood down in February, and the two ships departed with the submarine Oxley on a deployment to Turkey to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove.[15] Following Anzac Day, Sydney continued on a round-the-world voyage, which included numerous diplomatic visits to European and American ports, the first visit of a RAN vessel to Sweden, and participation in a United States counter-narcotics operation in the Caribbean.[16] The frigate arrived home in September.[17]

On 3 December 1990, Sydney and the Perth-class destroyer Brisbane arrived in the Persian Gulf to relieve HMA Ships Adelaide and Darwin as part of Operation Damask; the Australian military contribution to the Gulf War.[18] Sydney was assigned to the escort screen around Battle Force Zulu, a naval force built around four United States Navy aircraft carriers, and also participated in surveillance and boarding operations.[18][19] The two Australian warships remained in the area until 26 March 1991.[19] Sydney was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation on 4 November 1991 for this deployment, and later received the battle honour "Kuwait 1991".[20][21][22]

Aerial view of a frigate travelling at speed.
Sydney underway in the Persian Gulf during the Operation Damask deployment

Sydney was deployed back to the Persian Gulf for Operation Damask from September 1991 to February 1992, and again from June 1993 to December 1993.[23]

On 14 March 1994, Sydney rescued the crew of a yacht which had been participating in the Trans-Tasman Yacht Race before encountering difficulties.[24] In early October, the frigate was called on to search for survivors of a light aircraft that ditched into the Tasman Sea.[25]

In May 1995, Sydney became the first RAN warship to visit the Russian port of Vladivostok, as support for a diplomatic and trade mission.[26]

In 1997, Sydney was one of several RAN vessels placed on standby following the outbreak of political disturbances in Papua New Guinea as part of the Sandline affair.[27] No action was required by the Australian warships.[27]

Sydney was deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce from 3 November to 19 December 1999.[28] She received the battle honour "East Timor 1999" for this deployment.[21]

On 1 October 2000, Sydney took over from sister ship Newcastle as the RAN vessel assigned to support the peace negotiation process in the Solomon Islands that resulted in the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement.[29]

In October 2001, Sydney returned to the Persian Gulf to operate in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the War in Afghanistan.[30] The frigate was joined by sister ship Adelaide and the amphibious warfare vessel Kanimbla in early December, and returned to Australia in March 2002.[30] Sydney was sent back to the Gulf in support of 2003 invasion of Iraq, operating from May to August 1993 as part of Operations Falconer and Catalyst.[31] The battle honours "Persian Gulf 2001–03" and "Iraq 2003" recognise these deployments.[21]

Sydney was the first of four frigates selected to go under the A$1 billion FFG Upgrade, with HMA Ships Darwin, Melbourne and Newcastle following.[8] The upgrade features an 8-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), upgrades to fire control and air warning radars, and replacement of the hull-mounted sonar and diesel generators.[8] This refit commenced in 2002, but problems with integrating the frigates' anti-missile and anti-torpedo detection and defence systems meant that when Sydney was finished in 2007, she was initially not accepted back into service.[32][33] By November 2008, the problems with the upgrade had been solved.[34]

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) during the International Fleet Review 2013

On the morning of 13 March 2009, Sydney was one of seventeen warships involved in a ceremonial fleet entry and fleet review in Sydney Harbour, the largest collection of RAN ships since the Australian Bicentenary in 1988.[35] The frigate led the line of thirteen ships involved in the ceremonial entry through Sydney Heads, and anchored in the harbour for the review.[35]

On 20 April 2009, Sydney and the Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat departed from Sydney as part of Operation Northern Trident, a six-month round-the-world voyage by the two vessels, with numerous diplomatic visits and joint exercises with foreign navies.[36] On 17 May, Sydney and Ballarat provided aid to two merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, driving off two separate groups of Somali pirates attacking the ships.[37] Sydney remained in the area to report the incidents to Combined Task Force 151, while Ballarat escorted an impromptu convoy of eight ships, including the two that were attacked, to safety.[37] The two warships visited ports in Western Europe, North America, the Pacific and northern Asia, with Sydney arriving back in her namesake city on 19 September.[38]

In May 2013, Sydney began a three-month deployment with the

  • MaritimeQuest HMAS Sydney FFG-03 Photo Gallery

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  • "HMAS Sydney (IV)". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  • "Next generation of naval ships to reflect a rich history of service" (Press release). Department of Defence. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  • "Northern Trident 2009". Royal Australian Navy. 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  • "No Name (FFG 35)".  
  • "Australia's Hazard(ous) Frigate Upgrade". Defense Industry Daily. Watershed Publishing. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2008. 
Websites and other media
  • "HMAS Sydney returns home". ABC Online. 19 September 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  • Brooke, Michael (2 April 2009). "Marching into History". Navy News (Department of Defence). 
  • Dodd, Mark (19 May 2009). "RAN warships to the rescue as Somali pirates flee". The Australian. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  • Kirk, Alexandra; (and staff) (2 January 2008). "Dud frigates an inherited nightmare". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 22 April 2008. 
  • McPhedran, Ian (2 January 2008). "Frigates 'can't go to war' despite $1.4bn upgrade". The Advertiser (News Limited). Retrieved 21 April 2008. 
  • McPhedran, Ian (19 November 2008). "'"Australia's naval frigates 'worth the wait. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
News articles
  • Fish, Tim; Grevatt, Jon (24 June 2008). "Australia's HMAS Toowoomba test fires MU90 torpedo". Jane's Navy International (Jane's Information Group). 
  • Hooton, E.R. (1 December 1996). "Perking-up the Perry class". Jane's International Defence Review (Jane's Information Group) 9 (9). 
  • Scott, Richard (12 December 2007). "Enhanced small-calibre systems offer shipborne stopping power". International Defence Review (Jane's Information Group). 
Journal articles
  • Bendle, Vanessa; Griffin, David; Laurence, Peter; McMillan, Richard; Mitchell, Brett; Nasg, Greg; Perryman, John; Stevens, David; Wheate, Nial (2005). Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005 (PDF). Working Papers 18. Canberra, ACT: Sea Power Centre – Australia.  
  • Jones, Peter (2001). "1972–1983: Towards Self-Reliance". In Stevens, David. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.  
  • MacDougall, Anthony Keith (2002) [1991]. Australians at war: a pictorial history (2nd (revised and expanded) ed.). Noble Park, Vic: The Five Mile Press.  
  • Moore, John, ed. (1977). Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78.  
  • Sharpe, Richard, ed. (1998). Jane's Fighting Ships 1998-99.  
  • Stevens, David (2007). Strength Through Diversity: The combined naval role in Operation Stabilise (PDF). Working Papers 20. Canberra: Sea Power Centre – Australia.  


  1. ^ a b Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 220
  2. ^ Frame, Pacific Partners, pp. 102, 162
  3. ^ Frame, Pacific Partners, p. 162
  4. ^ a b MacDougall, Australians at war, p. 345
  5. ^ a b c d Hooton, Perking-up the Perry class
  6. ^ a b Moore (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78 , p. 25
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sharpe (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1998-99, p. 26
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, opp. p. 224
  9. ^ Australia's Hazard(ous) Frigate Upgrade, in Defense Industry Daily
  10. ^ Fish & Grevatt, Australia's HMAS Toowoomba test fires MU90 torpedo
  11. ^ Scott, Enhanced small-calibre systems offer shipborne stopping power
  12. ^ No Name (FFG 35), United States Navy
  13. ^ Sea Power Centre, HMAS Sydney
  14. ^ a b c Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 260
  15. ^ a b Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 3
  16. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, pgs. 4, 6
  17. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 4
  18. ^ a b Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 263
  19. ^ a b Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 7
  20. ^ "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  21. ^ a b c "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours" (PDF). Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  22. ^ "It's An Honour – Honours". Retrieved 3 August 2009. Citation: For meritorious operational service in the Persian Gulf during enforcement of sanctions in support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the subsequent period of hostilities against Iraq to liberate Kuwait in 1990–91. 
  23. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, pgs 12, 18
  24. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 20
  25. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 22
  26. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 24
  27. ^ a b Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 27
  28. ^ Stevens, Strength Through Diversity, p. 15
  29. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 40
  30. ^ a b Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 44
  31. ^ Bendle et al., Database of Royal Australian Navy Operations, 1990–2005, p. 48
  32. ^ Kirk, Dud frigates an inherited nightmare
  33. ^ McPhedran, Frigates 'can't go to war' despite $1.4bn upgrade
  34. ^ McPhedran, Australia's naval frigates 'worth the wait‍ '​
  35. ^ a b Brooke, Marching into History
  36. ^ Northern Trident 2009, Royal Australian Navy
  37. ^ a b Dodd, RAN warships to the rescue as Somali pirates flee
  38. ^ HMAS Sydney returns home, ABC Online
  39. ^ Slavin, Erik (6 May 2013). "Australian frigate embeds with US Navy at Yokosuka, Japan". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  40. ^ Commonwealth of Australia (2013). "Participating Warships: International Fleet Review, Sydney, Australia, 3–11 October 2013". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  41. ^ a b c d e Shannon, Lucy (10 February 2015). "Navy divers recover HMAS Sydney anchor which fell off in Hobart's River Derwent". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  42. ^ a b Australian Associated Press (27 February 2015). "". The Australian. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  43. ^ Aubusson, Laura (5 October 2015). "Ex-Navy ship could be sunk off Coogee Beach to create artificial dive reef to boost tourism". NewsLocal (News Limited). Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  44. ^ a b "Final entry into Sydney for city's namesake warship" (Press release). Department of Defence. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 


Sydney sailed into her namesake city for the final time on 27 February 2015.[42] Despite flying a decommissioning pennant, the frigate will not be paid off until 7 November 2015; two years later than originally expected.[8][42][43] Sydney will remain at Fleet Base East as an alongside training ship until her decommissioning.[44] She will be replaced by one of the three Hobart-class destroyers.[44]

Decommissioning and fate

Sydney visited Hobart in February 2015 for the Royal Hobart Regatta.[41] During the weekend of 7–8 February, the frigate was anchored in the River Derwent to free up wharf space for a civilian vessel.[41] On attempting to return to Macquarie Wharf, the anchor chain broke, leaving the anchor 25 metres (82 ft) below.[41] The anchor was later recovered by divers.[41] The loss of the anchor prevented Sydney from fulfilling duties as the regatta flagship, as the ship would be unable to maintain a stationary position during the event.[41]

In October 2013, Sydney participated in the International Fleet Review 2013.[40]


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