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HMAS Whyalla (J153)

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Title: HMAS Whyalla (J153)  
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HMAS Whyalla (J153)

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
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 & 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]


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.[2]

The ship was originally to be named HMAS Glenelg, for the city of Glenelg, South Australia.[3] That name was later used by another Bathurst class vessel.

Operational history


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][4] 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][5] 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".[6][7]

Civilian service

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

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 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]


  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 "HMAS Whyalla (I)". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Whyalla > History 1940–1960 Accessed 17 September 2013.
  3. ^ Straczek, Joe (Winter 2003). "What's in a name: a chronological list – part 2". Australian Sea Heritage (Australian Heritage Fleet) (75): 13.  
  4. ^ Jenkins, David (1992). Battle Surface! Japan's Submarine War Against Australia 1942–44. Milsons Point: Random House Australia. pp. 193–194.  
  5. ^ Gill, G. Hermon (1968). Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy 2. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • HNSA Ship Page: HMSA Whyalla

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