HMAS Ballarat (J184)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMAS Ballarat.
Hmas ballarat.jpg
HMAS Ballarat
Namesake: City of Ballarat, Victoria
Builder: HMA Naval Dockyard in Williamstown, Victoria
Laid down: 19 April 1940
Launched: 10 December 1940
Commissioned: 30 August 1941
Decommissioned: 27 September 1946
Motto: "Defend the Flag"
Honours and
Fate: Sold into civilian service in 1947. Sold for scrap in 1953.
Badge: HMAS ballarat crest.png
General characteristics
Class and 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 engine, 2 shafts, 1,750 horsepower
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 85
  • 1 × 4-inch gun
  • 3 × Oerlikons (later 2)
  • 1 × Bofors (installed later)
  • Machine guns
  • Depth charges chutes and throwers

HMAS Ballarat (J184), named for the city of Ballarat, Victoria, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II and one of 20 built for the Admiralty but manned by personnel of and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[3]

Design and construction[edit]

In 1938, the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board (ACNB) identified the need for a general purpose 'local defence vessel' capable of both anti-submarine and mine-warfare duties, while easy to construct and operate.[4][5] The vessel was initially envisaged as having a displacement of approximately 500 tons, a speed of at least 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), and a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km; 2,300 mi)[6] The opportunity to build a prototype in the place of a cancelled Bar-class boom defence vessel saw the proposed design increased to a 680-ton vessel, with a 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph) top speed, and a range of 2,850 nautical miles (5,280 km; 3,280 mi), armed with a 4-inch gun, equipped with asdic, and able to fitted with either depth charges or minesweeping equipment depending on the planned operations: although closer in size to a sloop than a local defence vessel, the resulting increased capabilities were accepted due to advantages over British-designed mine warfare and anti-submarine vessels.[4][7] Construction of the prototype HMAS Kangaroo did not go ahead, but the plans were retained.[8] The need for locally built 'all-rounder' vessels at the start of World War II saw the "Australian Minesweepers" (designated as such to hide their anti-submarine capability, but popularly referred to as "corvettes") approved in September 1939, with 60 constructed during the course of the war: 36 ordered by the RAN, 20 (including Ballarat) ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[4][9][10][11][3]

Ballarat was laid down by HMA Naval Dockyard in Williamstown, Victoria, on 19 April 1940.[3] She was launched on 10 December 1940 by the wife of Albert Dunstan, then Premier of Victoria, and commissioned into the RAN on 30 August 1941.[3]

Operational history[edit]

Ballarat entered service on 20 September 1941, and on her arrival in Sydney three days later was immediately assigned to the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla.[3] On 1 November, she was given the duty of providing anti-submarine protection to converted ocean liner Queen Mary, prior to her departure as part of a troop convoy to the Middle East.[3] Ballarat departed for Darwin on 14 November, towing an oil lighter.[3] On her arrival on 8 December, the corvette began escort patrols between Darwin and Timor.[3] She headed to Singapore in early 1942, then was assigned to Banka Strait, where she was employed in rescue and demolitions work.[3] On 14 February, Ballarat carried out one of the largest rescue operations in the region, collecting 215 survivors from the torpedoed merchant vessel MV Derrymore.[3] Amongst the survivors was John Gorton, who would later become Prime Minister of Australia.[3] Ballarat was also involved in the evacuation of Sumatra, and was the last RAN ship to leave.[3]

On the conclusion of this assignment, the corvette returned to Australian waters and resumed convoy operation between Australia and New Guinea.[3] In November 1942, Ballarat and sister ship Katoomba were attacked by Japanese dive bombers.[3] In December 1942, Ballarat and sister ships Broome and Colac were involved in the deployment of troops to Buna; Ballarat performing four troop deployments over the month.[3]

The corvette was ordered to the east coast of Australia in April 1943, to counter the increasing Japanese submarine threat.[3] She remained in this role until January 1944, when she returned to Darwin to perform patrols to Thursday Island.[3] Ballarat was again used as a troop transport in August 1944, moving soldiers from the Eilanden River in Papua New Guinea to Merauke, Indonesia.[3] In 1945 she returned to Sydney to perform minesweeping operations prior to the arrival of the British Pacific Fleet, and then participated in the invasion of Okinawa.[3]

Ballarat was present in Tokyo Bay on Victory over Japan Day (2 September 1945), when the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed.[12] She was then deployed on minesweeping duties in the Hong Kong area, during which she struck a mine on 6 November 1945.[3] She returned to Melbourne on 13 December, and was decommissioned into reserve on 27 September 1946.[3] Ballarat's wartime service was recognised by three battle honours: "Pacific 1941–45", "New Guinea 1942–44", and "Okinawa 1945".[2]

Ballarat was sold on 10 July 1947 to China Traders Ltd of Hong Kong, who then sold her on to the Ta Hing Company (Hong Kong) Ltd in December 1950.[3] Refitted as a coastal trader and renamed Carmencita, the corvette never entered civilian service as a Statutory Order issued by the Australian Government prevented the ship from entering Chinese waters.[3] Instead, she was sold a third time to John Manners and Co (Aust) Pty Ltd in 1953, who broke the ship up for scrap in the same year.[3]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ a b "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours" (PDF). Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "HMAS Ballarat (I)". Sea Power Centre – Australia. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Stevens, The Australian Corvettes, p. 1
  5. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 103
  6. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–4
  7. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–5
  8. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 104
  9. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 105, 148
  10. ^ Donohue, From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, p. 29
  11. ^ Stevens et al., The Royal Australian Navy, p. 108
  12. ^ "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 


  • Donohue, Hector (October 1996). From Empire Defence to the Long Haul: post-war defence policy and its impact on naval force structure planning 1945–1955. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs. No. 1. Canberra: Sea Power Centre. ISBN 0-642-25907-0. ISSN 1327-5658. OCLC 36817771. 
  • Stevens, David (2005). A Critical Vulnerability: the impact of the submarine threat on Australia's maritime defense 1915–1954. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs. No. 15. Canberra: Sea Power Centre Australia. ISBN 0-642-29625-1. ISSN 1327-5658. OCLC 62548623. 
  • Stevens, David; Sears, Jason; Goldrick, James; Cooper, Alastair; Jones, Peter; Spurling, Kathryn (2001). Stevens, David, ed. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-554116-2. OCLC 50418095. 
Journal and news articles
  • Stevens, David (May 2010). "The Australian Corvettes" (PDF). Hindsight (Semaphore). Sea Power Centre – Australia. 2010 (05). Retrieved 13 August 2010. 

External links[edit]