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Naval uniform jacket of Lieutenant Varley

Date: 1966
Overall (laid flat): 830 x 730 x 40 mm
Medium: Terylene fabric
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mrs Rosemary Varley
Object Name: Jacket
Object No: 00045512

User Terms

    This naval officer's jacket from the Vietnam War period is somewhat unusual. It is not the familiar naval white or blue, but khaki coloured. It dates from Commander Robert James Varley's naval career with the Royal Australian Navy and his period of training with the US Navy.
    SignificanceVarley’s khaki jacket represents an important shift in Australian naval policy and armament during the 1960s and is an interesting example of often forgotten variations of Australian uniforms.
    HistoryThis jacket belonged to Commander Robert James (Jim) Varley. Varley joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1953 and by 1963 had been promoted to Lieutenant and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering – just at the time the RAN was beginning to purchase a series of ships with new and more complex electronic systems.

    These DDGs were guided missile destroyers. In the late 1950s the Australian Navy had commenced looking into its first purchase of this capability. Perhaps surprisingly, considering Australia’s growing involvement with the United States Navy ever since the Great White Fleet visit of 1908, right up to the 1960s the RAN had never purchased any ship design other than British.

    It was not without some interest in naval circles, and yet another sign of the increasingly close political and military relations between Australia and the United States at this time, that the decision was made to purchase Australia’s first non-British designed warship.

    From 1962 three modified Charles F Adams class guided missile destroyers were ordered from the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in the USA. The PERTH, HOBART and BRISBANE were commissioned between 1965 and 1967. They were designated for Australia as the Perth class of destroyer and were to serve the RAN well, right up to 2001 when they were finally decommissioned.

    All three warships were deployed in the Vietnam War as part of the United States Seventh Fleet, providing air defence and coastal fire support. PERTH and HOBART were awarded decorations for their service by the United States.

    In the 1960s, Lieutenant Varley was among increasing numbers of Australian naval officers being sent to the US for training courses on these new destroyers. Whilst on shore in the US, Australian officers were required to wear United States dress jackets, which were khaki, with Australian insignia including rank shoulder boards.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Naval uniform jacket of Lieutenant Varley

    Assigned title: Royal Australian Naval uniform jacket of Commander Robert James Varley

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