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Officer's cummerbund - HMAS VAMPIRE

Date: 1980s
Overall (laid flat): 127 x 450 x 10 mm
Medium: Satin, velcro
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from HMAS Vampire Association
Object Name: Cummerbund
Object No: 00051329

User Terms

    Not officially issued, cummerbunds with special motifs and colour were generally the decision of the mess committee of the ship's wardroom. The committee may or may not consult with the ship's commanding officer. Worn for mess undress occasions, cummerbunds such as this one would have been made by reputable tailors. In Sydney, Red Anchor and Glendinnings & Stacey were favoured suppliers. Officers had to pay for the cummerbunds themselves. This example bears an embroidered symbol of HMAS VAMPIRE, the vampire bat.
    SignificanceThe cummerbund represents part of formal dress which was worn by officers and warrants to functions such as mess dinners and other special occasions. The embroidered silver vampire bat is the symbol of HMAS VAMPIRE, appearing on the ship's crest, and is the source of the ship's nickname 'The Bat'.
    HistoryHMAS VAMPIRE was the last of three Daring class destroyers built and launched in Australia. Originally ordered in 1946, VAMPIRE was built between 1952 and 1956 and commissioned in 1959. Her sisterships were VOYAGER (commissioned 1957) and VENDETTA (commissioned 1958). A fourth ship - WATERHEN - was planned but never ordered. They were named in honour of the Royal Navy Admiralty V&W class destroyers. Together, the three Darings formed the 9th Destroyer Squadron. During a 27-year career, VAMPIRE steamed some 808,000 nautical miles.

    VAMPIRE is a ship from another era - the last of the big destroyers built in Australia at the former premier shipbuilding facility on Cockatoo Island, Sydney - which closed in 1990. Ships such as VAMPIRE represent the last of the ships which had guns as their primary armament and which still relied to an extent on the skill of the gunners. Modern frigates might carry a single highly automated turret gun, but their real firepower comes from guided missiles. The Daring class destroyers, operating in the decades following World War II, came towards the end of 20th-century destroyer development. They were superseded by guided missile destroyers in which sophisticated technology posed different design challenges. In the Royal Australian Navy, the class was replaced by American-built guided missile frigates. Thus VAMPIRE, which served from 1959 to 1986, represents the culmination of a type of warship and the strategy it served.

    For most of the 1960s, VAMPIRE served in fleet operations and naval deployments as part of the Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR) with SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Organisation), and with ANZUK (Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom forces) in the South-east Asia region. In May 1965 VAMPIRE escorted the aircraft carrier HMAS SYDNEY, fitted out for troop transport, for part of her maiden voyage to Vietnam. VAMPIRE performed repeated escort duty for HMAS SYDNEY in 1965-67, 1969 and 1972. Unlike her sister Daring class destroyer HMAS VENDETTA, VAMPIRE was not directly involved in gunfire action against enemy positions. In 1979 the ship undertook a cruise to South -east Asia. Decommissioned in 1986 for the final time, VAMPIRE was put on display at ANMM where it remains one of the most popular exhibits at the Museum. The ship's badge shows a flying vampire bat and is the source of one of the ship's nicknames 'The Bat'.

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