HMAS Warrego (D70)
|Builder:||Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Cockatoo Island Dockyard
|Laid down:||December 1910|
|Launched:||4 April 1911|
|Commissioned:||1 June 1912|
|Decommissioned:||19 April 1928|
|Fate:||Sank while in use as accommodation hulk, 1931|
|Class & type:||River-class torpedo-boat destroyer|
|Length:||246 ft (75 m) length overall|
|Beam:||24 ft 3.5 in (7.404 m)|
|Draught:||8 ft 10 in (2.69 m)|
|Propulsion:||3 × Yarrow boilers, Parsons turbines, 10,000 shp (7,500 kW), 3 shafts|
|Speed:||26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph)|
|Range:||2,690 nautical miles (4,980 km; 3,100 mi) at 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph)|
|Armament:||1 × BL 4-inch Mk VIII gun
3 × QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval guns
3 × .303-inch machine guns
3 × 18-inch torpedo tubes
Depth charge chutes and throwers (installed later)
HMAS Warrego, named for the Warrego River, was a River-class torpedo-boat destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Ordered in 1909, construction of the destroyer started in England, but she was then broken down and reassembled at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in order for the Australian shipbuilding industry to gain experience in warship construction. Warrego was commissioned into the RAN in 1912, and spent her early career operating in Australian waters.
At the start of World War I, Warrego was assigned to the Australian force tasked with neutralising German colonies in the region, along with finding and destroying the German East Asia Squadron. She was involved in the capture of Rabaul and the Battle of Bita Paka during 1914. After patrol work in Australian, New Guinea, and South-east Asian waters, Warrego and her sister ship were assigned to the Mediterranean in 1917, and served as an anti-submarine patrol force. The ship participated in the Second Battle of Durazzo in 1918. After the war's end, Warrego returned to Australia, and was placed in reserve.
The destroyer was reactivated for short periods in 1920 and 1928, but was paid off in 1928 and marked for disposal. The destroyer was partially disassembled, then used as an accommodation hulk at Cockatoo Island. Warrego sank at her berth in 1931, and was demolished with underwater charges.
Design and construction
Warrego had a displacement of 700 tons, a length overall of 246 feet (75 m), and beam of 24 feet 3.5 inches (7.404 m), and a maximum draught of 8 feet 10 inches (2.69 m). The destroyer was powered by three Yarrow oil-burning boilers connected to Parsons turbines, which delivered 10,000 shaft horsepower to three propeller shafts. Warrego's maximum speed was 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph), and she had a cruising speed of 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph), giving the ship a range of 2,690 nautical miles (4,980 km; 3,100 mi). The ship's company consisted of between 66 and 73 personnel, including five officers.
The destroyer's main armament consisted of a single BL 4-inch Mark VIII naval gun, supplemented by three QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval guns. She was also fitted with three .303-inch machine guns and three single 18-inch torpedo tubes. Later in Warrego's career, the destroyer was fitted with four chutes and two throwers for depth charges.
Warrego, along with sister ships Yarra and Parramatta, were ordered on 6 February 1909; the first ships to be ordered for the Commonwealth Naval Forces, the post-Federation amalgamation of the Australian colonial navies. Warrego was laid down by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, but when she reached launch condition, the destroyer was disassembled and transported to Australia by ship. She was re-laid at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in December 1910. The reasoning behind this was to raise the standard of the Australian shipbuilding industry by giving Cockatoo Island hands-on experience in warship construction. The destroyer was launched on 4 April 1911 by the wife of George Pearce, the Minister for Defence. Warrego was completed on 1 June 1912, and was commissioned into the RAN that day. The destroyer's name comes from the Warrego River.
During the early part of the destroyer's career, Warrego operated in Australian waters. At the start of World War I, Warrego was assigned to the Australian force tasked with neutralising German colonies in the region, along with finding and destroying the German East Asia Squadron. On the night of 11 August 1914, Warrego and sister ship Yarra were tasked with entering Simpson Harbour at Rabaul to find and lure the German ships into the guns of the battlecruiser HMAS Australia, but found no ships in harbour. During late August and early September, the destroyer escorted the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to New Britain, and was involved in the landing of troops at Kabakaul to capture a nearby wireless station. Apart from a brief docking in Sydney, Warrego remained in the New Guinea area until 5 February 1915, when she was reassigned to patrols along the east coast of Australia. In October, she sailed to Borneo, and carried out patrols in the region until August 1916.
In October 1917, Warrego and her five sister ships were assigned to the Mediterranean. Based at Brindisi, the destroyers were assigned to anti-submarine patrols of the Adriatic. Warrego and HMAS Swan fought at the Second Battle of Durazzo in October 1918. At the end of the war, Warrego was briefly deployed to the Black Sea before sailing to Gibraltar. The ship earned two battle honours for her wartime service: "Rabaul 1914" and "Adriatic 1917–18".
The six destroyers, accompanying the cruiser Melbourne, arrived in Darwin on 26 March 1919: Warrego had to tow Parramatta and Yarra into harbour, as they ran out of fuel. On 20 July, Warrego was placed in reserve. Warrego was briefly recommissioned from 17 January to 23 August 1920 for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Australia, then recommissioned again on 27 March 1928 for training purposes.
Decommissioning and fate
Warrego was paid off for the final time on 19 April 1928. She was partially disassembled at Cockatoo Island during 1929, then moored at the island for use as an accommodation hulk. On 23 July 1931, the ship sank at her berth, and had to be broken up with underwater demolition charges.
- Cassells, The Destroyers p, 190
- Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 191
- Cassells, The Destroyers, pp. 190–1
- Stevens, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 18
- Royal Australian Navy, HMAS Warrego (I)
- Clark, in Stevens & Reeve, The Navy and the Nation, p. 313
- Clark, in Stevens & Reeve, The Navy and the Nation, pp. 313–4
- Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 192
- "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.
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- Cassells, The Destroyers, pp. 192–3
- Cassells, Vic (2000). The Destroyers: their battles and their badges. East Roseville, NSW: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7318-0893-2. OCLC 46829686.
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- "HMAS Warrego (I)". Ship Histories. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- Stevens, David (2001). Stevens, David, ed. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-555542-2. OCLC 50418095.
- "Royal Navy Log Books - HMAS Warrego". naval-history.net. Retrieved 2014-01-02. OldWeather.org transcription of ship's logbooks February to July 1919