HMAS Ipswich (J186)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMAS Ipswich.
HMAS Ipswich in 1944
HMAS Ipswich in 1944
Career (Australia)
Namesake: City of Ipswich, Queensland
Builder: Evans Deakin & Co, Brisbane
Laid down: 6 March 1941
Launched: 11 August 1941
Commissioned: 13 June 1942
Decommissioned: 5 July 1946
Motto: "Dare to Defy"
Honours and
Battle honours:
Pacific 1942
Indian Ocean 1942–45
Sicily 1943
East Indies 1944
Okinawa 1945
Fate: Transferred to RNN
Badge: Ship's badge
Career (Netherlands)
Name: Morotai
Commissioned: 5 July 1946
Decommissioned: 1949
Fate: Transferred to TNI-AL
Career (Indonesia)
Name: Hang Tuah
Commissioned: 1949
Fate: Sunk by CIA air attack
28 April 1958[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: Bathurst-class corvette
Displacement: 650 tons (standard),
1,025 tons (full war load)
Length: 186 ft (57 m)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Draught: 8.5 ft (2.6 m)
Propulsion: triple-expansion steam engine,
2 shafts, 2,000 hp
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) at 1,750 hp
Complement: 85
Armament: 1 × 12-pounder gun
(later replaced by 1 × 4-inch gun)
3 × Oerlikons (later 2)
1 × Bofors (installed later)
Machine guns
Depth charges, chutes and throwers
HMAS Ipswich (J186) is located in Indonesia
HMAS Ipswich (J186)
A CIA aircraft sank Hang Tuah just off Balikpapan in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

HMAS Ipswich (J186/B244/A118), named for the city of Ipswich, Queensland, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes built during World War II and one of 20 built on Admiralty order but manned by personnel of and later commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[2]

Ipswich was later operated by the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN) as HNLMS Morotai, and by the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) as KRI Hang Tuah.[2] In Indonesian service in 1958 the ship was attacked by a CIA aircraft[1] and sunk with considerable loss of life.[3]


Ipswich was laid down by Evans Deakin & Co at Brisbane in Queensland on 6 March 1941.[2] She was launched on 11 August 1941 by Evelyn Foll, wife of the Minister for the Interior Harry Foll, and commissioned on 13 June 1942.[2]

Operational history[edit]


Ipswich was employed from commissioning until 3 November 1942 as a convoy escort in Australian waters. From 3 November 1942 until 21 January 1945, Ipswich was assigned to the British Eastern Fleet, primarily serving in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, but spending May to October 1943 in the Mediterranean.[2] During this time, Ipswich was credited with shooting down a twin-engined bomber near Syracuse on 25 July 1943, and on 11 February 1944 worked with HMAS Launceston and HMIS Jumna to sink Japanese submarine Ro-110.[2]

Upon leaving the British Eastern Fleet, Ipswich returned to Australia, where she was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet.[2] Ipswich was present in Tokyo Bay on Victory over Japan Day (2 September 1945), when the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed.[4]

Ipswich earned five battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942", "Indian Ocean 1942–45", "Sicily 1943", "East Indies 1944", and "Okinawa 1945".[5][6]


Ipswich paid off from RAN service on 5 July 1946 and was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy and renamed HNMLS Morotai.


Morotai was transferred to the Indonesian Navy in 1949 and renamed KRI Hang Tuah. On 28 April 1958 a Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft, painted black and showing no markings,[7] bombed and sank her off Balikpapan in southern Borneo.[1] 18 crew were killed and another 28 were wounded.[1]

The B-26's co-pilot was Colonel Muharto[1] of the Permesta rebel movement's AUREV insurgent air force but the aircraft, its ammunition and pilot were supplied by the CIA[8] as part of an insurgency to destabilise President Sukarno's government. The pilot was William H Beale, Jr, a former USAAF Lieutenant-Colonel then employed by a Taiwan-based CIA front organisation, Civil Air Transport.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 116.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "HMAS Ipswich (I)". Sea Power Centre Australia. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  3. ^ Lind, Lew (1986) [1982]. The Royal Australian Navy – Historic Naval Events Year by Year (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Reed Books. ISBN 0-7301-0071-5. OCLC 16922225. 
  4. ^ "Allied Ships Present in Tokyo Bay During the Surrender Ceremony, 2 September 1945". Naval Historical Center – U.S. Navy. 27 May 2005. Retrieved 13 January 2007. "Taken from Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPAC/CINCPOA) A16-3/FF12 Serial 0395, 11 February 1946: Report of Surrender and Occupation of Japan" 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 88.
  8. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 89.
  9. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, pp. 99–100.