HMAS Katoomba

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HMAS Katoomba (AWM 045088).jpg
Namesake: Town of Katoomba, New South Wales
Builder: Poole & Steel
Laid down: 9 September 1940
Launched: 16 April 1941
Commissioned: 17 December 1941
Decommissioned: 2 August 1948
Honours and
Fate: Sold for scrap
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
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) at 1,750 hp
Complement: 85
Armament: 1 × 12-pounder gun, 3 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons (1 later replaced with 1 × Bofors 40 mm gun), Machine guns, Depth charges chutes and throwers

HMAS Katoomba (J204/M204), named after the tourist resort of Katoomba, 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 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 (including Katoomba) ordered by the RAN, 20 ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[2][7][8][9][1]

Katoomba was laid down by Poole & Steel at Balmain, New South Wales on 9 September 1940.[1] She was launched on 16 April 1941 by Mrs. Lloyd, then deputy mayoress of Katoomba, and was commissioned into the RAN on 17 December 1941.[1]

Operational history[edit]

Katoomba entered active service with an assignment to Darwin, where she arrived on 19 December 1941.[1] The next day, Katoomba, along with sister ships Deloraine and Lithgow, and the United States destroyer Edsall, was involved in the prosecution and successful sinking of Japanese submarine I-124, the first enemy submarine sunk in Australian waters.[1] Katoomba was present during the Japanese bombing of Darwin on 19 February, but was not significantly damaged.[1]

At the end of June, Katoomba was reassigned as a convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol ship in the waters of northern Queensland and New Guinea.[1] On 14 August, Katoomba was sent to assist United States submarine S-39, which had run aground on a reef off Rossel Island.[1] Attempts to refloat the submarine were unsuccessful, and on 16 August, the corvette left Rossel Island with S-39’s entire crew of 47 embarked.[1] The submarine was gutted and left to break up naturally.[1] On 28 November, Katoomba and sister ship Ballarat were attacked by a force of ten Japanese dive bombers.[1] The corvettes escaped without serious damage.[1] Katoomba was attacked again during January 1943, when a force of six Japanese aircraft attacked the corvette and the Dutch merchant ship Van Heutz.[1] Katoomba escaped serious damage, but the merchantman was hit, with one man killed and three injured.[1]

In February 1944, Katoomba ended her escort duties, and after a short period on patrol, was sent to Sydney for refitting.[1] Upon her return to New Guinea waters in early May 1944, the corvette was assigned as an anti-submarine patrol ship.[1] She remained in this role until the start of March 1945, although during this period she was occasionally used as an escort ship.[1] The corvette returned to Australian waters, spent three months in Fremantle, then was assigned to Darwin, where she operated until the end of World War II.[1]

After the war's end, Katoomba was sent to the Japanese surrender at Timor, before assignment to mine-clearance duties throughout New Guinea waters.[1] She returned to Sydney in October 1946, and was prepared for decommissioning, but was instead reactivated to help clear the coast of Queensland of mines.[1]

Katoomba received three battle honours for her wartime service: "Darwin 1942", "Pacific 1942–45", and "New Guinea 1942–44".[10][11]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

Katoomba arrived in Fremantle on 16 January 1948, and was paid off into reserve on 2 August.[1] She remained in reserve until 2 May 1957, when she was sold for breaking up as scrap to the Hong Kong Rolling Mills.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "HMAS Katoomba (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 27 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). Retrieved 13 August 2010. 

External links[edit]