HMAS Cairns (J183)

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HMAS Cairns
HMAS Cairns
Namesake: City of Cairns, Queensland
Builder: Walkers Limited
Laid down: 31 March 1941
Launched: 7 October 1941
Commissioned: 11 May 1942
Decommissioned: 17 January 1946
Honours and
Fate: Transferred to RNN
Name: Ambon
Commissioned: 17 January 1946
Fate: Transferred to TNI-AL
Name: Banteng
Commissioned: 6 April 1950
Fate: Broken up for scrap in 1968
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. 2,000 hp
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) at 1,750 hp
Complement: 85
Armament: 1 × 4 inch Mk XIX gun, 3 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons (later 4), 1 × Bofors 40 mm gun (installed later), Machine guns, Depth charges chutes and throwers

HMAS Cairns (J183), named for the city of Cairns, Queensland, 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).[1]

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.[2][3] 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)[4] 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.[2][5] Construction of the prototype HMAS Kangaroo did not go ahead, but the plans were retained.[6] 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 Cairns) ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[2][7][8][9][1]

Cairns was laid down by Walkers Limited at Maryborough, Queensland on 31 March 1941.[1] She was launched on 7 October 1941 by Mrs. R. D. Walker, wife of the Works Manager of Walkers Limited, and commissioned into the RAN on 11 May 1942.[1]

Operational history[edit]

Royal Australian Navy[edit]

From entering service until 16 October 1942, Cairns was based in Fremantle and operated as a convoy escort, anti-submarine patroller, and minesweeper.[1] On 16 October, the corvette was reassigned to the British Eastern Fleet and ordered to Kilindini, Kenya, arriving on 14 November.[1]

Cairns remained with the Eastern Fleet until January 1945.[1] Most of this time was spent on patrol or escort duties in the Indian Ocean. The corvette was reassigned to the Mediterranean from June until September 1943.[1] During this time, Cairns was involved in the Allied invasion of Sicily.[1] On 11 February 1944, a convoy Cairns was assigned to was attacked by Japanese submarine RO-110.[1] The corvette was involved in the successful destruction of the submarine, but one convoy ship was torpedoed.[1] Following a refit in Adelaide from May to July 1944, Cairns was redeployed to Colombo, which was her base of operations until January 1945, when the corvette was sent back to Australia.[1]

On arrivial in Australian waters, Cairns was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet.[1]

The ship received four battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942–45", "Indian Ocean 1942–45", "Sicily 1943", and "Okinawa 1945".[10][11]

Royal Netherlands Navy[edit]

Following the end of World War II, all Admiralty-owned Bathurst class corvettes were disposed of. Cairns was paid off in Brisbane on 17 January 1946.[1] She was immediately recommissioned into the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN) and renamed HNLMS Ambon.[1]

Indonesian Navy[edit]

Following four years of service with the RNN, the ship was transferred to the Indonesian Navy on 6 April 1950 and renamed KRI Banteng.[1]


The corvette was broken up for scrap in April 1968.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "HMAS Cairns (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Stevens, The Australian Corvettes, p. 1
  3. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 103
  4. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–4
  5. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–5
  6. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 104
  7. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 105, 148
  8. ^ Donohue, From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, p. 29
  9. ^ Stevens et al., The Royal Australian Navy, p. 108
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ "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. 


  • 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). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 

External links[edit]