HMAS Kiama

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HMAS Kiama
HMAS Kiama in 1944
Name: HMAS Kiama
Namesake: Town of Kiama, New South Wales
Builder: Evans Deakin & Co
Laid down: 2 November 1942
Launched: 3 July 1943
Commissioned: 26 January 1944
Decommissioned: 3 April 1946
Identification: Pennant number: J353
Honours and
Fate: Transferred to RNZN
New Zealand
Acquired: 5 March 1952
Decommissioned: 19 August 1976
Renamed: HMNZS Kiama
Reclassified: Training ship
Identification: Pennant number: M353
Fate: Paid off for disposal
General characteristics
Class and type: Bathurst-class corvette
  • As built:
  • 650 tons standard
  • 1,025 tons (full war load)
  • RNZN service:
  • 790 tons
Length: 186 ft (57 m)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Draught: 8.5 ft (2.6 m)
Installed power: 2,000 hp (1,500 kW)
  • Triple-expansion steam engine
  • 2 shafts
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
  • As built: 85
  • RNZN service: 65

HMAS Kiama, named for the coastal town of Kiama, 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]

After World War II, the corvette was one of four sold to the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). She served as HMNZS Kiama from 1952 until 1976, when the corvette was paid off and marked for disposal.

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 Kiama) 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]

Kiama was constructed by Evans Deakin & Co, at Brisbane, Queensland.[1] She was laid down on 2 November 1942, and launched on 3 July 1943 by Mrs. G. Lawson, wife of the Minister for Transport.[1] Kiama was commissioned into the RAN on 26 January 1944.[1] The coastal community of Kiama, after which the vessel was named, donated recreational materiel for her crew including a radio set, books, and a 16 mm movie projector.[10][11]

Operational history[edit]

World War II[edit]

Kiama's first deployment was in March 1944 to Milne Bay in New Guinea.[1] From her arrival until September 1944, the corvette's main duty was to escort convoys along the New Guinea coastline, although a reassignment for the duration of June saw Kiama perform anti-submarine patrols in the Solomon Sea.[1] In September, Kiama was used to transport soldiers between New Guinea and New Britain.[1] On conclusion, she resumed her convoy escort role until the end of 1944, when she departed for Sydney.[1] During her eight months in New Guinea waters, Kiama travelled over 30,000 nautical miles (56,000 km), was at sea for more than 3,000 hours.[1]

Commandos from In September 1944 'C' Troop and a small detachment from 'B' Troop, from the 2/8th Commando Squadron were landed from HMAS Kiama on a reconnaissance operation at Jacquinot Bay on the island of New Britain, to collect intelligence in preparation for an assault by the 5th Division.[12]

The corvette arrived in Sydney on 21 December 1944.[1] On 25 December, the crew was recalled from leave to go to the assistance of the liberty ship SS Robert J. Walker, which had been torpedoed by German submarine U-862.[1] Kiama, along with Quickmatch, Yandra, and USS PC597 were dispatched to the last known location of the ship and began to search the area for the liberty ship's crew and the attacking submarine; finding the 67 survivors of the attack at 05:45 on 26 December but failing to locate U-862.[13] Kiama was assigned to anti-submarine patrols near Sydney for the final days of the year, before sailing to Adelaide for a month-long refit on 3 January 1945.[1]

Post-refit, Kiama was assigned to Fremantle for two months of anti-submarine warfare exercises with the United States Navy, before returning to New Guinea on 7 May 1945.[1] In May and June, the corvette performed several coastal bombardments in the Bougainville area.[1] In July, Kiama transported Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester from New Guinea to the Solomon Islands, then spent the rest of the month moving troops and military cargo between these two locations.[1] From 5 to 24 August, the corvette was based in Brisbane, before returning to New Guinea waters.[1] Kiama spent the rest of 1945 as a troop and supply transport, minesweeper, and general duties vessel.[1] When the war ended, Kiama took part in the Japanese surrender at Rabaul.[14] In November, Kiama was assigned to escort demilitarized Japanese cruiser Kashima as the cruiser embarked Japanese soldiers in New Guinea for repatriation.[15]

Kiama returned to Sydney on 29 January 1946.[1] In February she paid a six-day farewell visit to the town of Kiama, ahead of her decommission into the Reserve on 3 April.[1][16] During her wartime service, the ship had been at sea for 6,369 hours, and had sailed a distance of 60,822 nautical miles (112,642 km).[1] She earned two battle honours: "Pacific 1944–45" and "New Guinea 1944".[17][18]

Transfer to RNZN[edit]

On 5 March 1952, Kiama and three other Bathurst-class corvettes (Echuca, Inverell, and Stawell) were transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy.[19] Kiama was commissioned into the RNZN,[when?] receiving the prefix HMNZS. Upon acquisition by New Zealand, the corvette was converted into a training ship.[20] Kiama's 4-inch gun and aft minesweeping equipment were removed, and replaced with two 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns.[20]

In 1964, Kiama was re-commissioned in the 27th Fisheries Protection Squadron.[21] Other duties included search-and-rescue operations and transportation of scientific teams to small island along New Zealand's coastline.[22][23] The corvette revisited her namesake town in Australia in late 1966.[24]


Kiama was paid off for disposal on 19 August 1976[1] and broken up in 1979.[20] The corvette's mast is displayed at the Paeroa Historic Maritime Park, in Paeroa, North Island.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "HMAS Kiama (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 26 August 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. ^ "H.M.A.S. "KIAMA".". The Kiama Reporter and Illawarra Journal (NSW : 1899 – 1947). NSW: National Library of Australia. 23 August 1944. p. 5. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "H.M.A.S. KIAMA.". The Kiama Reporter and Illawarra Journal (NSW : 1899 – 1947). NSW: National Library of Australia. 8 March 1944. p. 3. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  12. ^ Astill 1996, p. 24.
  13. ^ Gill, George Hermon (1968). "Submarines' Swansong" (PDF). Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945 (PDF). Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 2, Volume II. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. p. 552. OCLC 65475. NLA registry number Aus 68-1798. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  14. ^ "HMAS Kiama at Rabaul". The Kiama Reporter and Illawarra Journal (NSW : 1899 – 1947). NSW: National Library of Australia. 12 September 1945. p. 3. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Jap colonel gets sharp lesson in manners.". The Argus. Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 27 November 1945. p. 16. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "H.M.A.S. KIAMA LEAVES.". The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser (NSW : 1863 – 1947). NSW: National Library of Australia. 16 February 1946. p. 3. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "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. 
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ "HMAS Inverell (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c Gardiner, p. 285.
  21. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships (1966), p.195
  22. ^ The New Zealand Entomologist, vol.5 (1971), p. 14
  23. ^ Ballance, Alison (2007-09-27). Don Merton: The Man Who Saved the Black Robin. Reed Books. ISBN 9780790011592. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  24. ^ "Town awaits namesake.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). ACT: National Library of Australia. 5 November 1966. p. 30. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 



  • 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. 
  • Gardiner, Robert (ed.). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1557501325. 
  • 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. 
  • Wright, Gerry (2015). Kiwi Bathurst Tales: Some stories from those who served in the four New Zealand Bathursts, HMNZ Ships Echuca, Stawell, Kiama and Inverell. Auckland: Gerry Wright. ISBN 9780473337193. 

Journal and news articles[edit]

  • Stevens, David (May 2010). "The Australian Corvettes" (PDF). Hindsight (Semaphore). Sea Power Centre – Australia. 2010 (05). Retrieved 13 August 2010.