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MV Krait

Vessel Number: HV000076
Date: c 1934
Vessel Dimensions: 21.33 m x 3.35 m x 1.5 m, 35.27 tonnes (70 ft x 11 ft x 4.95 ft, 36 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
KRAIT is a wooden 1934 Japanese isihng boat built in Japan in 1934. KRAIT holds a special place in Australia's wartime history through its involvement with Operation Jaywick and the Z Special Unit in World War II. KRAIT was used as a commando vessel under the guise of still being a Japanese operated fishing boat in the region. After the war it was used by private owners in the Indonesian region, before being returned to Australia in the 1960s. It was acquired by the Australian War Memorial in the mid-1980s and is now displayed in the water at the Australian National Maritime Museum who help maintain the vessel.
DescriptionKRAIT (the name for a venomous snake in South East Asia and pronounced 'Krite' not 'Krate') was originally called the KOFUKU MARU and had been a fishing vessel built in Japan around 1934 for a Japanese firm in Singapore. The 21.33 metre long vessel is carvel planked with holds forward of the engine room, and wheelhouse on deck. It was one of a number of Japanese vessels captured and impounded early in the war, becoming a war prize and put into use by the Australian military. When Singapore fell the vessel became employed along the east coast of Sumatra and Malaya rescuing survivors of ships sunk along that coastline. When the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) surrendered, a civilian WR Reynolds motored the vessel to Colombo in India, and then across to Australia .

KRAIT was selected to take British and Australian members of a commando unit to raid Japanese occupied Singapore Harbour in September 1943. Operation Jaywick, undertaken by the Z Special Unit of the Australian Services Reconnaissance Department was a major success, sinking seven ships. Commandoes paddled into the harbour in canoes and attached limpet mines to the ships' hulls, under the cover of darkness. All 11 members of the unit returned safely to Australia. During planning for the raid, KRAIT was chosen as it had been a former Japanese vessel and was less likely to raise concern if spotted. This helped on the return journey when a Japanese patrol vessel passed by KRAIT without challenging the vessel as to its identity.

KRAIT was fitted out on the east coast where initial training also took place. For the raid, it departed from Exmouth in WA. KRAIT transported the commandos and their Folboats ( which were folding canoes) as close as possible to Singapore Harbour, then retired to wait in a bay off Borneo before a rendezvous with the successful raiding party a few days after the raid.

The vessel remained with the Australian military and was in Ambon on Timor at the surrender of the Japanese forces in September 1945. KRAIT was then employed for intelligence gathering amongst the islands in the region.

When KRAIT was no longer needed it was towed to Morotai, then sold at Labuan to the British Borneo Company. It operated off Borneo until it was spotted by one of its wartime crew. In 1964 KRAIT was returned to Australia after a public campaign to raise funds to help bring it back. It then spent time as a Royal Volunteer Coast Guard vessel. In 1985 it was transferred to the Australian War Memorial. On their behalf the Sydney Maritime Museum oversaw restoration work to bring it back to its wartime appearance and configuration. In 2006 KRAIT is on loan to the Australian National Maritime Museum where it has been displayed since 1988, on the water and in operating condition.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Current status:floating
Current status:on public display
Current status:operational
Current status:outside
Deck layout:full decked
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:overhanging transom
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:inboard
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
Related materials:interviews
Related materials:news clippings
Related materials:photos
Related materials:references
Spar material:timber
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Current status:museum vessel
Byzantine ships:ships:ship:ships:wheelhouse
Additional Titles

Primary title: MV Krait

Previous title: Kofuku Maru

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