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Thursday, 12 November 1964


Senator HENTY - On Friday, 30th October 1964, Senator Drury asked the following question, without notice -

Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy been directed to reports that the British destroyer "Duchess", which is being loaned to Australia to replace the lost "Voyager'', is a naval white elephant? Is it a fact that the " Duchess " will cost £300,000 to refit? Is) it also true that the destroyer was offered to Australia on loan on very handsome terms? Can the Minister tell the Senate what the terms are and when refitting of the vessel will be completed?

The Minister for the Navy has now supplied the following answer -

There is no truth in the reports that the Royal Navy Daring Class destroyer " Duchess " was in a poor condition when she was made available on loan by the Royal Navy to replace H.M.A.S. "Voyager". The ship was twelve years old, and was due for a scheduled major refit. The refit at Williamstown Naval Dockyard in Victoria has shown that she was in a sound condition. No unanticipated problems were encountered, except for trouble with a boiler tube, which was repaired. The refit has cost approximately £340,000. This has included certain alterations such as the installation of air conditioning, in accordance with R.A.N. policy for ships serving in tropical waters; other improvements to the ship's habitability to accord with R.A.N. standards; and the updating of certain fighting equipment and communications.

The Australian Government and the R.A.N. are most grateful to Britain for the loan of " Duchess ", which is a sister ship to the two Daring Class destroyers in service in the R.A.N. She will serve in the operational fleet until the two new type 12 frigates being built in Australia are completed in some four years' time. The destroyer was made available at very short notice, the only cost to the R.A.N. being the vessel's refit and maintenance. The terms of the agreement under which the ship has been loaned to the R.A.N. are-

(i)   the ship to be on loan for a period of four years with possible extension and no charges to be made for the loan;

(ii)   the ship to be handed over to the R.A.N. at Melbourne and at the end of the loan period to be returned by the R.A.N. at Singapore or as may be agreed;

(iii)   the R.A.N. to be responsible for all running expenses including refits and repairs during the period of the loan;

(iv)   the R.A.N. to bear at the outset the cost of the full outfit of consumable naval victualling and other miscellaneous stores plus the following armament stores -

(a)   all torpedoes, including torpedo spares and warheads;

(b)   twelve squid projectiles;

(c)   saluting guns and ammunition and spares;

(d)   40 mm. ammunition.

H.   M.S. "Duchess" has completed her refit, and commenced her post-refit trials on Monday morning, 9th November.







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