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HMAS Whyalla

Vessel Number: HV000144
Date: 1941
Vessel Dimensions: 56.73 m x 9.44 m x 4.72 m, 650 tonnes (186.13 ft x 30.97 ft x 15.49 ft, 660.4 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
HMAS WHYALLA is one of the few remaining Royal Australian Navy vessels that served in action in World War II.
DescriptionHMAS WHYALLA is a Bathurst Class anti-submarine and minesweeping vessel, built by BHP Pty Ltd at their Whyalla shipyard in the early years of World War II. It was used around Australia and in the Pacific Islands.

There was a significant need for anti-submarine and minesweeping vessels at the war's beginning. German U-Boats and then later Japanese submarines attacked convoys along the southern and eastern Australian coastline using both torpedoes and mines.

It is thought that HMAS WHYALLA was to be named GLENELG but if that was the case then the name was changed before it was launched on the 12th of May 1941. The vessel was commissioned on the 8th of January 1942, and initially it undertook convoy escort duties on the eastern Australian coastline. It was in Sydney Harbour on the night of the midget submarine attacks. HMAS WHYALLA took an active part in the hunt for the submarines on Sydney Harbour after the attack, and then the next day off Sydney Heads.

Soon after it was sent north to Papua New Guinea waters to undertake important surveying operations as the allies prepared to establish new bases in an unfamiliar and poorly charted region. It became the first RAN warship to survey some of these previously uncharted coastal waters in the area. Near Cape Nelson Peninsula it was attacked by 18 Japanese dive bombers and six fighter aircraft; there was no damage to the ship, but two anti-aircraft crew were injured, and one fighter was shot down.

The vessel also surveyed Milne Bay in PNG, running aground at one point, but the survey was a very significant task and Milne Bay became the major allied base in 1943 for the US offensive against Japanese held islands in the South West Pacific. During a raid by Japanese bombers in April 1943 HMAS WHYALLA was prominent in assisting allied ships making escape manoeuvres.

In November 1943 the ship came back to Australian waters and took on escort duties off the east coast of Australia, including minesweeping operations to the south east. An encounter with a whale damaged the sonar dome under the bow of the ship, and the whale survived.

At the end of the war in 1945 HMAS WHYALLA was attached to the British Pacific Fleet and formed part of the allied occupying forces that received the Japanese surrender in Hong Kong. It was paid off in 1946, having covered 110,000 nautical miles during its wartime service.

The Victorian Ports and Harbours Department in Melbourne bought HMAS WHYALLA in 1947 and renamed it RIP. The vessel was used to service pile lights and conducted blasting operations at the entrance to Port Phillip. In 1984 RIP was retired from their service, and in 1987 the ship came back to WHYALLA where it is now out of the water and on display as a major exhibit for the Whyalla Maritime Museum. It has been returned to its wartime configuration and appearance.

As HMAS WHYALLA it was armed with a 4 in calibre Mark IV turret on the foredeck, two 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns, one 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns and depth charges. The engines are understood to have been made by Western Australia Railways and the boilers by Cockatoo Dockyard in Sydney. However some components carry brand names of 'Thompson' and Kerry & Lewis, Melbourne' suggesting the machinery was sourced from a number of suppliers by BHP Whyalla.

Prepared from information supplied by Whyalla Maritime Museum and 'Australia's Ships of War' by John Bastock, Angus and Robertson 1975.
Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:steel/iron
Deck layout:multiple decks
Deck material and construction:steel/iron
Hull material and construction:steel
Hull shape:monohull
Motor propulsion:screw steamerSSsteam launchsteam shipsteam yachtsteamersteamshipSY
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Additional Titles

Previous title: Rip

Primary title: HMAS Whyalla

Previous title: Glenelg

Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: J 153

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