HMAS Goulburn

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HMAS Gouldburn in 1941
HMAS Goulburn in 1941
Namesake: City of Goulburn, New South Wales
Builder: Cockatoo Island Dockyard
Laid down: 10 July 1940
Launched: 16 November 1940
Commissioned: 28 February 1941
Decommissioned: 27 September 1946
Honours and
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1947
General characteristics
Class and type: Bathurst-class corvette
Displacement: 743 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 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, 2 × Lewis .303 machine guns, 2 × Vickers .303 machine guns, Depth charges chutes and throwers

HMAS Goulburn (J167/B243/A117), named for the city of Goulburn, New South Wales, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by 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 Mk XIX 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 Goulburn) ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[2][7][8][9][1]

At 743 tons standard displacement, Goulburn exceeded the designed standard displacement of the Bathurst class ships by 93 tons.[1]

Goulburn was laid down by the Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney, New South Wales on 10 July 1940.[1] She was launched on 16 November 1940 by the wife of Rear Admiral John Gregory Crace, the commander of the Australian Squadron, and was commissioned on 28 February 1941.[1]

Operational history[edit]

After entering active service, Goulburn was assigned to minesweeping duties along the east and south-east coasts of Australia, and was one of several ships attempting to locate mines deployed by the German auxiliary cruiser Pinguin and the auxiliary minelayer Passat.[1] Although operating in this role from 23 April to 31 May 1941, the corvette located only a single mine.[1]

On 16 June, Goulburn and sister ship Burnie were assigned to the China Station and sailed to Singapore.[1] The corvettes operated as convoy escorts, minesweepers, and anti-submarine patrol ships until January 1942.[1] Goulburn was then deployed to Batavia and used as a minesweeper and convoy escort throughout the Sunda Islands.[1] On 27 February, the corvette passed the ABDA cruiser force shortly before the beginning of the Battle of the Java Sea.[1] Although removed from the main battle area, Goulburn was attacked by three waves of three Japanese dive bombers, but was undamaged.[1] On 29 February, Goulburn departed for Australia, arriving in Fremantle on 9 March with only seven tons of fuel remaining.[1] The corvette was assigned to convoy escort runs along the Queensland coast until the end of 1943, then entered a three-month refit.[1]

After refitting, Goulburn was deployed to New Guinea waters as an escort and patrol vessel.[1] During June 1944, the corvette supported landings at Dugumu Bay and Sogari Island.[1] On 25 September, native scouts and a US Army Intelligence officer were embarked to be transported to the Malpia Islands.[1] The native scouts were landed on 27 September to assess Japanese troop strength throughout the island group.[1] After the scouts failed to rendezvous with the ship two days later, and following a failed search attempt by six sailors and the US officer, it was assumed that the scouts had been captured.[1] This was confirmed when American PT boats attempted to land troops on the island a few days later, meeting heavy Japanese resistance.[1] Before leaving the area, Goulburn shelled a village on Pegun Island believed to hold Japanese troops.[1] At the start of October, the corvette was tasked with retrieving another native scout group. After several failed attempts to locate the scouts, they were retrieved from Mois Aoeri Island.[1] While returning to the ship, the shore party was able to capture three Japanese soldiers attempting to escape in a canoe.[1] After observing numerous Japanese personnel on shore, and receiving conformation that several hundred Japanese were based on the island, Goulburn opened fire on the main camp.[1] After these operations, the corvette returned to convoy escort duties until December 1944, then returned to Australia.[1]

Goulburn spent the first part of 1945 operating in Australian waters, before returning to New Guinea in May.[1] She spent a month on escort and minesweeping duties, before sailing to Darwin and escorting a floating dry dock to Milne Bay.[1] The corvette remained in New Guinea waters until the end of the war on 15 August.[1] On 30 August, Goulburn and two sister ships escorted a convoy to Hong Kong, arriving on 21 September.[1] The corvette was involved in minesweeping operations throughout Chinese waters, before returning to Sydney in December 1945.[1]

The ship received two battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942–44" and "New Guinea 1942–44".[10][11]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

Goulburn was paid off on 27 September 1946.[1] She was sold to Pacific Enterprise Incorporated on 13 October 1947, and after several re-sales, ended up in the possession of the Ta Hing Company of Hong Kong in December 1950.[1] However, a Commonwealth Statutory Order prevented the ship from leaving Australian waters, and she was sold again to John Manners & Co of Sydney in 1953.[1] The corvette was broken up for scrapping at Iron Cove in 1953.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag "HMAS Goulburn (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 24 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.