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An alternate, alternate RAN

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What actually happened:

Early 50s the government decides to get out of the carrier business when the yet to be delivered HMAS Melbourne's air group reaches the end of its effective life, as such HMAS Sydney's modernisation is cancelled and the RAN is directed to develop a new force structure. 

By the late 50s it has been decided that Melbourne will be re roled as an ASW helicopter carrier, the RAN will acquire guided missiles for air defence and defence as a whole will look to aligning with US equipment types.

Acquisition of ex USN destroyers is seriously considered (presumably Gearing or Sumner, but possibly Fletcher class) as the RAN begins seriously looking for a guided missile ship.

The RAN desires an extensively modified County Class destroyer with Tartar as its missile, the RN says this is not viable in the configuration or time frame required and push the existing County DLG design or suggest waiting for the proposed Escort Cruiser.

The Australian Government selects the US Charles F Adams Class DDG and Skyhawks and Trackers are acquired to permit Melbourne to be retained as a conventional carrier into the late 70s early 80s.

The main considerations:

The existing carriers were not suitable to operate a replacement generation of fleet defence aircraft.

Australia could not easily afford replacement carriers and their air groups, or man them for that matter.

A guided missile ship was required to replace the air defence capability lost with the Sea Venoms and DP guns of the fleet becoming obsolete in the role.

Ship based ASW helicopters (and ships capable of operating them) were required.

There was a requirement to develop closer ties with the US and begin using US sourced equipment.

Nothing available in the US or the UK met most, let alone all of RANs requirements.

Other ship building nations designs were even less suitable than those of the US or UK, bar one...


Go Italian!

Specifically the RN manages to convince the RAN that an Escort Cruiser type ship is the way to go, it could actually permit the disposal of HMAS Melbourne altogether, rather than converting her to a helicopter carrier.  There would still be a requirement for destroyers but the savings of disposing of the carrier (sale to Argentina?) would free up enough money to fund the modernisation of the Battle and Daring Class destroyers with new radars, fire controls, Ikara and Seacat, as well as to acquire three or more Andrea Doria Class Terrier armed helicopter cruisers as task force flagships.  The ships were ideal due to their US systems, but also being designed to operate Sikorsky H-34, meant the RANs new Wessex fleet could be operated as well.

Ideally the ships would be built in Australia, as would the following modified Vittorio Veneto class cruisers and Audace Class DDGs built in the 1970s.  Eventually the cruisers would be progressively replaced by a smaller number of Garibaldi class carriers, the River Class DEs replaced with Meastrale class frigates and an amphibious capability introduced with San Giorgio class amphibious transport docks.

Interesting proposition:

Andrea Doria:

Vittorio Veneto:




San Giorgio:

Would you also go for something such as the Nazario Sauro class for the submarine fleet?

Would still go Kockums Type 471 for the submarine, possibly the Dutch Walrus, or as an outside option an evolved US Barbel derivative.


--- Quote from: Volkodav on May 31, 2020, 03:49:13 PM ---Would still go Kockums Type 471 for the submarine, possibly the Dutch Walrus, or as an outside option an evolved US Barbel derivative.

--- End quote ---

I always liked the Dutch Walrus design, and was sort of hopeful it would have won the RAN's
Oberon class Replacement Competition...😩


It was the best existing design and even with the RAN going for the superior new Kockums design there Dutch combat system should have been acquired as it would have save a lot of pain associated with Rockwells fantasy system that had to be replaced at great expense in the late 2000s as it never worked.


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