HMAS Whyalla (J153)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMAS Whyalla.
HMAS Whyalla
HMAS Whyalla
Career (Australia)
Namesake: City of Whyalla, South Australia
Builder: Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd in Whyalla, South Australia
Laid down: 24 July 1940
Launched: 12 May 1941
Commissioned: 8 January 1942
Decommissioned: 16 May 1946
Honours and
awards:
Battle honours:
Pacific 1942–45
New Guinea 1942–44
Okinawa 1945
Fate: Sold into civilian service
Career (Victorian Public Works Department)
Name: Rip
Acquired: 10 February 1947
In service: 1947
Out of service: 1984
Reclassified: Lighthouse maintenance vessel
Fate: Sold in 1984
Career (Whyalla City Council)
Name: Whyalla
Acquired: Late 1984
Status: Landlocked museum ship
General characteristics during RAN service
Class and type: Bathurst-class corvette
Displacement: 733 tons (standard)
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 × 4-inch gun
3 × Oerlikons (1 later removed)
1 × Bofors (installed later)
Machine guns
Depth charges chutes and throwers

HMAS Whyalla (J153/B252), named for the city of Whyalla, South Australia was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II and one of 20 built on Admiralty order but manned by personnel of and later commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[1] The ship was sold to the Victorian Public Works Department at the end of the war, who renamed her Rip and used her as a maintenance ship.[1] In 1984, she was purchased by Whyalla City Council, who put her on display as a landlocked museum ship in 1987.[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 Whyalla) ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[2][7][8][9][1]

Whyalla was laid down by Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd at Whyalla, South Australia on 24 July 1940.[1] The corvette was launched on 12 May 1941 by Lady Barclay-Harvey, wife of the Governor of South Australia, and commissioned on 8 January 1942.[1] Whyalla was the first ship built by the Whyalla shipyard.[10] The ship was originally to be named Glenelg, for the city of Glenelg, South Australia.[11] That name was later used by another Bathurst-class vessel.

Operational history[edit]

RAN[edit]

In 1942, the corvette worked supporting convoys off the south eastern Australian coast, and was in Sydney Harbour during the Japanese midget submarine attack of 31 May 1942.[1][12] 12 days later, Whyalla was escorting a southbound convoy when the freighter Guatemala was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-21, the only ship to be lost in a convoy escorted by Whyalla.[1]

In December 1942, the corvette was assigned to New Guinea, where she performed convoy escort, hydrographic survey work, and was involved in the leadup to the battle of Buna-Gona.[1] On 2 January 1943, Whyalla and two small Australian survey ships, Stella and Polaris, were attacked by Japanese dive-bombers while in McLaren Harbour, Cape Nelson, New Guinea.[1][13] The corvette received minor damage from near-misses, with two crew injured by shrapnel.[1] The corvette continued survey work until relieved by sister ship Shepparton in April 1943.[1] Whyalla proceeded to Milne Bay, and was present when the anchorage was attacked by a force of approximately 100 Japanese aircraft.[1] Again, Whyalla was not seriously damaged, and the corvette assisted sister ships Kapunda and Wagga in the rescue and salvage effort.[1]

Whyalla returned to Australia for refits in June 1943, and on completion was assigned to convoy duty off Australia's east coast, where she remained until February 1944.[1] Between February and June, she was involved in anti-submarine patrols off Sandy Cape, then was again assigned to New Guinea.[1] In December 1944, Whyalla was one of nine Australian Bathursts assigned to the British Pacific Fleet's 21st Minesweeping Flotilla.[1] Whyalla spent the rest of the war performing minesweeping, escort, and anti-submarine duties with the British Pacific Fleet, as well as participating in the occupation of Okinawa from March to May 1944, and entering a short refit in June 1944.[1] Following the conclusion of World War II, Whyalla spent a short time operating in Hong Kong before returning to Brisbane in October 1945.[1] She was decommissioned on 16 May 1946.[1]

The corvette received three battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942–45", "New Guinea 1942–44", and "Okinawa 1945".[14][15]

Civilian service[edit]

Whyalla was sold to the Victorian Public Works Department on 10 February 1947.[1] The corvette was modified for civilian service, renamed Rip, and towed to Melbourne, where she entered service as a lighthouse maintenance vessel at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.[1] The ship was in service until 1984, and was to be sold for scrap.[1]

Maritime museum[edit]

When the Whyalla City Council learned that the corvette was to be scrapped, they negotiated to purchase the ship.[1] Whyalla was purchased for A$5,000 and sailed back to Whyalla with a volunteer crew of 11 and under her own steam in late 1984.[1] The corvette was located in her launching slipway until April 1987, when she was moved 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) inland to become the centrepiece of the Whyalla Maritime Museum, which opened in 29 October 1988.[1] Whyalla is one of only two Bathurst-class corvettes still in existence as museum ships; the other being HMAS Castlemaine.[1]

Citations[edit]

  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 "HMAS Whyalla (I)". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  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. ^ Whyalla > History 1940–1960 Accessed 17 September 2013.
  11. ^ Straczek, Joe (Winter 2003). "What's in a name: a chronological list – part 2". Australian Sea Heritage (Australian Heritage Fleet) (75): 13. ISSN 0813-0523. 
  12. ^ Jenkins, David (1992). Battle Surface! Japan's Submarine War Against Australia 1942–44. Milsons Point: Random House Australia. pp. 193–194. ISBN 0-09-182638-1. 
  13. ^ Gill, G. Hermon (1968). Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy 2. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "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. 

References[edit]

Books
  • 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]

Media related to HMAS Whyalla (J153) at Wikimedia Commons