During the Vietnam War, the perceived absence of an enemy threat was the prime factor that influenced the Australian government's decision to exclude from benefits and entitlements those who served on the country's HMAS Sydney, HMAS Jeparit, and HMAS Boonaroo, as well as the warships that escorted them into the war zone. It was a flawed decision made on the basis of fallacious information, and it was the cause of much bitterness. While the HMAS Sydney and her escort were at anchor, not only were they vulnerable to an enemy well versed in unconventional guerrilla warfare, but all who served on these ships were also exposed to highly toxic herbicides used to defoliate the nearby landscape - the residue of this procedure flowed into the surrounding rivers and streams. Due to the processes used at the time for the production of potable water, the dioxins contained in the distillate were enriched, thereby making them much more potent and deadly. This book highlights the vital part played by HMAS Sydney and other units of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the support of land-based forces in Vietnam.
The book identifies and dispels various myths which have developed around the importance of sea transport and logistical support, and it argues for a new appreciation of the service of the 13,000 members of the RAN who participated in this vitally important task. Many of the book's illustrations were taken by serving military personnel, which gives them an immediacy and poignancy lacking in official photographs.