HMS Bulolo

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HMS Bulolo.jpg
Civil Ensign of the United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Name: MV Bulolo
Owner: Burns, Philp Shipping Company
Route: Mail service from Australia to Papua New Guinea
Builder: Barclay, Curle & Company Limited (Glasgow, Scotland)
Yard number: 668
Launched: 31 May 1938
Maiden voyage: 18 November 1938
In service: 1938-39
Fate: Requisitioned by Royal Navy September 1939
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Bulolo
Commissioned: 4 January 1940
Decommissioned: 4 December 1946
Identification: Pennant number: F 82
Honours and
Civil Ensign of the United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Name: MV Bulolo
Owner: Burns, Philp Shipping Company
In service: 1948-1968
Fate: Scrapped 1968
General characteristics
Displacement: 6,937 tons standard
Length: 412 ft (126 m)
Beam: 58 ft (18 m)
Draught: 23 ft (7.0 m)
Propulsion: Twin-screws driven by 3 man B & W (Burmeister & Wain) diesel-electric engines
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Range: 9,300 nautical miles at 12 knots
  • 7 × 152 mm
  • 2 × 76 mm

HMS Bulolo was a 6,267 ton passenger and cargo ship of the Burns, Philp Shipping Company operating in the South Pacific. In 1939 she was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser, then a Landing Ship Headquarters (LSH) in 1942. She directed the landings on North Africa, Sicily, Anzio and Normandy during World War II.[1]

Pre-WW II service[edit]

The MV Bulolo was built for the Burns Philp line to be a passenger, cargo and mail steamer. She began her career on 19 November 1938 between Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. She had completed eight voyages when war broke out in September 1939.

World War II history[edit]

On 22 September 1939 the Bulolo was requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport on behalf of the Royal Navy from Burns, Philp & Company Limited, (based in Sydney, New South Wales. She spent October 1939 to January 1940 being converted into an armed merchant cruiser with seven 6-inch guns, two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns, depth charges and smaller armaments.

On 24 January 1940, the Bulolo sailed from Freetown acting as a convoy escort within the Freetown Convoy Escort Group. Over the next 27 months she was based almost exclusively in the Atlantic travelling between South America, South Africa and Britain carrying troops and supplies. Bulolo also searched for German surface raiders and in the capture of Vichy French ships.

On 25 March 1942 the Bulolo was sold to the Admiralty and on 4 April 1942 conversion to an amphibious Landing Ship Headquarters began. During this refit she had a sophisticated communications systems installed for use in army, navy and air force control purposes. The refit was completed in October 1942.

Bulolo then headed to North Africa as the flagship of Admiral Sir Harold M. Burrough, Commander of the Eastern Naval Task Force to take part in Operation Torch (the invasion of North Africa) and entered Algiers Harbour on 9 November 1942, the day after its surrender. She then took part in Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily) as the flagship of Rear Admiral Thomas Troubridge in charge of 'Force A' commanding the British XIII Corps (at the Gulf of Noto) between July and August 1943, and then as flagship commanding 'Task Force Peter' embarking the British 1st Division during Operation Shingle, the landings at Anzio in January 1944. The Bulolo then returned to Britain in April 1944 in readiness for Operation Overlord, the Allied landings being planned for Normandy in June 1944.

On 28 April 1944, Commodore Douglas-Pennant, Naval Commander of Force "G", hoisted his flag on the HMS Bulolo. Thereafter the Bulolo commenced training for D-Day. On 6 June 1944, Bulolo commanded the landing on Gold Beach, and though she was forced to relocate after receiving incoming fire from the German battery at Longues-sur-Mer, she remained off the beaches directing the assault. On 27 June she returned to Portsmouth.

Following another refit, the Bulolo was sent in 1945 to be the Headquarters Ship and flagship of Rear Admiral Benjamin Martin for 'Force W' off Malaya commanding the Allies retaking of South East Asia from Japanese forces. In September 1945, Bulolo was used to accept the Japanese surrender at Singapore.[2]

Post-World War II career[edit]

On 4 December 1946 she was decommissioned and returned to the Burns, Philp Shipping Company in 1948 to resume her merchant duties. After 161 round voyages, she was sold to the China Steel Corporation and scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in May 1968.


  1. ^ "MV Bulolo". Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "TSMV Bulolo". Retrieved 1 November 2013. 

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