Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Company

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Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Company
IndustryShip building
Founded1 March 1933
Defunct31 December 1992
OwnerAustralian National Industries

The Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Company was a ship building and maintenance company which operated the Cockatoo Island Dockyard on Cockatoo Island in Sydney, Australia between 1933 and 1992.


The Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Company commenced trading on 1 March 1933 taking a 21 year lease over the dockyard on Cockatoo Island from the Federal Government.[1][2][3][4]

Having held a minority shareholding since 1937, in 1947 Vickers-Armstrongs became the majority shareholder.[5] In February 1954, the lease was renewed for a further 20 years and 8 months, and again from 1 January 1972 for 21 years.[4][6]

In February 1984, Vickers merged its Australian interests were with the Commonwealth Steel Company to form Comsteel Vickers, Vickers and BHP each owning 38%, with the remaining 24% held by smaller investors.[7] On 4 June 1986, the company was purchased by Australian National Industries (ANI).[8]

As part of a review of Australia's ship building capabilities, the Federal Government decided in 1987 the lease would not be renewed.[9] Although consideration was given to terminating the lease early, in the end it ran its course until 31 December 1992, although the only work performed in the last 18 months was decommissioning the dockyard. A lengthy legal action over various costs and liabilities between the government and ANI was settled in May 1997.[4]

Ships built[edit]

Fitting Out H.M.A.S. Yarra at Sydney (1935) by Frank Norton

Other work[edit]

During World War II, the dockyard was the main ship repair facility in the Pacific Ocean, with over 250 ships repaired. The Cunard liners RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth were converted into troopships at Cockatoo Island. In the eight months between August 1942 and March 1943, Cockatoo repaired four cruisers of the United States Navy: USS Chicago, USS Chester, USS Portland, and USS New Orleans. Many ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) were repaired.[4]

From the early 1960s, the dockyard performed refits on RAN vessels including British T-class submarines (5), Oberon class submarines (14) and Attack-class patrol boats (43).[4]


  1. ^ "Cockatoo Dockyard Leased". Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (13, 762). New South Wales, Australia. 8 February 1933. p. 1 (Commercial Australia) – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "Cockatoo Company Takes Over". The Sun (7229). New South Wales, Australia. 1 March 1933. p. 13 (Last Race Edition) – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Engineering Work". The Sydney Morning Herald (29, 691). New South Wales, Australia. 2 March 1933. p. 9 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ a b c d e Jeremy, John (2005). Cockatoo Island. Randwick: University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 0868408174.
  5. ^ "Vickers Buys Sydney Dock". The Sun (11581). New South Wales, Australia. 7 March 1947. p. 5 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "New Lease on Docks". The Daily Advertiser. New South Wales, Australia. 23 February 1954. p. 1 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Vickers Australia Limited Delsited
  8. ^ Comsteel Vickers Limited Delisted
  9. ^ "Dockyards to private sector". The Canberra Times. 61 (18, 808). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 2 April 1987. p. 1 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Gillett, Ross (1977). Warships of Australia. Sydney: Rigby Limited. pp. 139–143, 148–149, 153–155, 164–171, 190–191, 204–207, 240, 270. ISBN 0 7270 0472 7.
  11. ^ Jeremy, John (1998). Cockatoo Island: Sydney's historic dockyard. Sydney, NSW: UNSW Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-86840-817-4. OCLC 60607127.
  12. ^ Moore, John, ed. (1979). Jane's Fighting Ships 1978–79. London: Macdonald & Jane's Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 0 354 00570 7.
  13. ^ Plowman, Peter (2004). Ferry to Tasmania: A Short History. Dural: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 118–119. ISBN 1 877058 27 0.

Further reading[edit]