HMAS Cootamundra

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HMAS Cootamundra by Allan Green SLV H91.108 288.jpeg
Career (Australia)
Namesake: Town of Cootamundra, New South Wales
Builder: Poole & Steel
Laid down: 26 February 1942
Launched: 3 December 1942
Commissioned: 30 April 1943
Decommissioned: 26 November 1945
Recommissioned: 12 December 1951
Decommissioned: 8 June 1959
Reclassified: Training ship (1951)
Motto: "Service"
Honours and
awards:
Battle honours:
Darwin 1943
Pacific 1943–45
New Guinea 1944
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1962
Badge: HMAS cootamundra crest.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Bathurst class corvette
Displacement: 650 tons standard
1,025 tons full load
Length: 186 ft 2 in (56.74 m)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Draught: 8 ft 3 in (2.51 m)
Propulsion: triple expansion engine, 2 shafts, 2,000 hp
Speed: 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph)
Complement: 85
Armament: 1 × 4-inch gun
1 × 40 mm Bofors

HMAS Cootamundra (J316/M186), named for the town of Cootamundra, New South Wales, was one of 60 Bathurst class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[1]

Construction[edit]

Cootamundra was laid down by Poole & Steel at Sydney, New South Wales on 26 February 1942.[1] She was launched on 3 December 1942 by Lady Davidson, wife of the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales, and commissioned into the RAN on 30 April 1943.[1]

Compared to other Bathurst class corvettes, Cootamundra is slightly longer (186 feet 2 inches (56.74 m) as opposed to 186 feet (57 m)) and has a slightly shallower draught (8 feet 3 inches (2.51 m) compared to 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m)).[1]

Operational history[edit]

World War II[edit]

After commissioning, Cootamundra was assigned to convoy escort duties along the east coast of Australia.[1] On 15 June, a thirteen-ship convoy heading for Brisbane and escorted by Cootamundra and sister ships Bundaberg, Deloraine, Kalgoorlie, and Warrnambool, was attacked off Smoky Cape.[1] The United States Army Transport Portmar and the US Navy Landing ship LST-469 were torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-174: the former sinking in minutes with the loss of only two lives, while 26 were killed aboard the latter ship, which survived and was towed to port.[1][2] This was the last submarine attack to be made on the east coast of Australia during World War II.[2]

Cootamundra was reassigned to Darwin in early June, and began to escort shipping between Darwin and Thursday Island.[1] On 6 August, while escorting the merchantman SS Macumba, the two ships were attacked by two Japanese aircraft. Macumba’s engine room was destroyed, and despite efforts to tow the ship to safety, the merchantman's crew were taken aboard the corvette that evening and the ship was allowed to sink.[1] Cootamundra remained in her role until April 1944, when she sailed to Sydney for refit.[1] The refit finished at the end of May, and after a brief period operating as an escort from Darwin, Cootamundra was reassigned to New Guinea waters.[1] The corvette served as a convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol ship from 5 July until the end of World War II.[1]

The corvette was awarded three battle honours for her wartime service: "Darwin 1943", "Pacific 1943–45", and "New Guinea 1944".[3][4]

Post-war[edit]

Following the end of the war, Cootamundra was used to transport Allied prisoners-of-war back to Australia, and carry an occupation force to Ambon, before leaving New Guinea waters on 29 September 1945 while towing HMAS Leilani.[1] The corvette arrived in Melbourne on 26 November 1945, where she was decommissioned into reserve.[1]

On 12 December 1951, Cootamundra was re-commissioned as a training ship.[1] In 1954, the corvette visited New Zealand. In 1957, she was assigned to northern Australian waters, to supervise the Japanese pearling fleet.[1]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

Cootamundra was decommissioned for the second time on 8 June 1959.[1] She was marked for disposal on 27 September 1961, and was sold for scrap on 28 March 1962.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "HMAS Cootamundra". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Gill (1968). Pages 261–262.
  3. ^ "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.