HMAS Stawell

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HMAS Stawell during 1944
HMAS Stawell during 1944
Namesake: Town of Stawell, Victoria
Builder: HMA Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria
Laid down: 18 June 1942
Launched: 3 April 1943
Commissioned: 7 August 1943
Decommissioned: 26 March 1946
Motto: "Without Fear or Favour"
Honours and
Fate: Sold to RNZN
New Zealand
Acquired: 5 March 1952
Decommissioned: Late 1950s
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1968
General characteristics during RAN service
Class and type: Bathurst-class corvette
  • 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 (1,500 kW)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) at 1,750 hp
Complement: 85
  • 1 × 4-inch gun
  • 3 × 20 mm Oerlikons
  • Machine guns
  • Depth charges chutes and throwers

HMAS Stawell (J348/M348) was a Bathurst-class corvette named for the town of Stawell, Victoria.[1] Sixty Bathurst-class corvettes were constructed during World War II, and Stawell was one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[1]

The corvette later served in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) as HMNZS Stawell.

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 (102 mm) 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 Stawell) 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]

Stawell was laid down by HMA Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria on 18 June 1942.[1] She was launched on 3 April 1943 by Mrs. J. J. Dedman, wife of the Minister for War Organisation, and commissioned into the RAN on 7 August 1943.[1]

Operational history[edit]


The majority of Starwell’s career was spent in three areas. Initially, she served as a convoy escort along the east coast of Australia.[1] Following this, Stawell participated in a variety of escort, minesweeping, and combat roles throughout New Guinea waters.[1] In the final third of her career, the ship spent time in Hong Kong waters, performing minsweeping and anti-piracy duties.[1] Stawell returned to Brisbane in November 1945.[1]

The corvette received three battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1943–45", "New Guinea 1943–44", and "Borneo 1945".[10][11]


Stawell was removed from RAN service on 26 March 1946.[1] On 5 March 1952, Stawell and three other Bathurst-class corvettes (HMA Ships Echuca, Inverell, and Kiama) were transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy.[12]

She was commissioned into the RNZN during May 1952 and given the prefix HMNZS.[13] Stawell operated primarily as a training vessel until 1959, when she was placed into reserve.[1][13]


Stawell was sold to Pacific Scrap Limited of Auckland, New Zealand in July 1968, and was broken up for scrap.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "HMAS Stawell (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 27 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. ^ "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. 
  12. ^ "HMAS Inverell (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Gillett, Ross (1988). Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946. Brookvale, NSW: Child & Associates. p. 140. ISBN 0-86777-219-0. OCLC 23470364. 



  • 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[edit]

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