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The Bat

Date: 1960s
Overall: 560 x 520 mm
Medium: Copper alloy
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from HMAS Vampire Association
Classification:Visual communication
Object Name: Ship's mascot
Object No: 00048055
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    HMAS VAMPIRE was commissioned on 23 June 1959 and served in the RAN until 1986. The Daring class destroyer was built at Cockatoo Island and is known as the last of the big gun ships. The ship's badge shows a flying vampire bat, source of one of the ship's nicknames, 'The Bat'.

    This copper alloy 'bat' was placed on the aft funnel of HMAS VAMPIRE by members serving in the warship. The length of time the mascot remained attached to the vessel is unknown. It was removed when VAMPIRE was decommissioned in 1986 and never replaced. It went missing for a number of years, before being passed to a member of the HMAS VAMPIRE Association and thence to the Museum. A replica of this original 'bat' was made and fixed to HMAS VAMPIRE in 2010.

    SignificanceThis 'bat' is of interest as an unofficial fixture that was attached to the vessel during its active naval service. It is of sentimental value to many of the naval personnel who served in HMAS VAMPIRE, many of whom belong to the HMAS VAMPIRE Association.
    HistoryThis 'bat' has a mysterious history. Rumour has it that some of the crew of HMAS VENDETTA tried to pass their vessel off as HMAS VAMPIRE by replicating the bat, but stokers on another ship spotted the fake.

    In a separate incident the RAN's Navy News published an article about HMAS VENDETTA with an accompanying photograph purported to be VENDETTA. Yet keen readers spotted the bat in the photograph and the newspaper printed a correction in the following edition on 17 September 1971, stating the photograph was actually of VENDETTA's sister ship VAMPIRE. The museum made a replica of the 'bat' and mounted it on the aft funnel in 2010.

    HMAS VAMPIRE was completed on 22 June 1959, and commissioned into the RAN the next day. The Daring class destroyer was regularly deployed to South East Asia, being attached to the Far East Strategic Reserve on five occasions. The vessel escorted the troop transport HMAS SYDNEY on numerous transport voyages to Vietnam.

    In 1980, VAMPIRE was reclassified as a training ship. On 25 June 1986, VAMPIRE left active service and was decommissioned on 13 August 1986. In 1986 the destroyer was lent to the Australian National Maritime Museum for preservation as a museum ship. HMAS VAMPIRE opened to the public in 1991 and ownership of the ship was officially transferred in 1997.

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