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Motor Whaler 2703  aboard HMAS DIAMANTINA in 2010 at the Queensland Maritime Museum

RAN 27 Ft Motor Whaler 2703

Vessel Number: HV000413
Date: 1961
Vessel Dimensions: 8.18 m x 8 m x 2.14 m x 0.94 m (26.84 ft x 26.25 ft x 7.02 ft x 3.08 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
The Royal Australian Navy 27 foot motor whaler number 2703 built in 1961 is a typical naval small craft carried aboard a ship and called a seaboat. Seaboats served a variety of purposes at sea and in harbour in support of the ship they were attached to. These craft were carried aboard most RAN warships for many decades. This example number 2703, was the third moulded-plywood double skin construction whaler built at Garden Island Dockyard, Sydney.
DescriptionRAN 27 foot motor whaler 2703 is almost 8.2 m long by 2.14 m wide. The double-skin, moulded plywood hull has two gunwale timbers on the topsides, and a bilge keel stringer on the exterior below the waterline. The moulded ply or double diagonal construction was also a feature of the RN vessels, and is noted in early 1950 editions of the Admiralty Seamanship Manuals. It was fitted with an Enfield diesel motor and thwarts for rowing, but has no sailing rig. Carved into the stem is its number 2703 and year of building, 1961. It was built at the Navy's Garden Island Dockyard where the RAN apprentices learnt their trade. It was a typical project for the apprentices, working with an experienced shipwright. The apprentices learnt practical skills and teamwork by building the vessel.

The RAN motor whalers were the same design as the Royal Navy craft. In 1956 the RN had decided to modernise its seaboats with a motorised craft, and redesigned their sailing and rowing version to include a motor. It was officially designated a 27 foot Motor Whaler and unofficially known as a three-in-one whaler. They did not sail or pull very well as they were too heavy, and the RN then changed them to a version designated a 27 foot Motor Whaler Mod 1, which abandoned the sailing rig. The RAN built 13 three-in-ones, numbered 2701 - 2713 from 1961 to 1963, and then four Mod 1's numbered 2714 - 2717 from 1963 to 1964.

Royal Australian Navy Motor Whaler 2703 was used aboard HMAS DIAMANTINA during a period when the ship was involved with a number of interesting oceanographic survey and scientific research tasks around the Australian coastline from 1961 to 1969.

The whaler would have been put to use for a variety of support roles for this work however the overall duties of these seaboats were quite varied. At sea they performed man overboard rescues, transfer of stores and personnel between ships, transferring an armed boarding party, recovering practice torpedoes and passing towing lines. In harbour they would assist in securing a ship to a mooring buoy or laying out a kedge anchor, transferring mail, stores and personnel, or laying buoys for survey or salvage operations. They also had a recreational purpose as a pulling boat for naval regattas and if fitted with sail, for sailing races.

It was sold from the RAN in 1975, and remained in private ownership until 1989 when it was acquired by the West Australian Maritime Museum. In 2007 it transferred the whaler to Queensland Maritime Museum so that it could be reunited with HMAS DIAMANTINA. QMM volunteers completely restored the vessel, including some accidental fire damage to the planking that happened enroute to QMM.

Although built as a three-in-one, 2703 appears to have become a two-in-one as it is currently not fitted for a sailing rig. This whaler has been restored at the Queensland Maritime Museum where it is on display aboard HMAS DIAMANTINA. Before 1961 HMAS DIAMANTINA had carried two clinker whalers.

Prepared from research provided by the Naval Historical Society of Australia and the Queensland Maritime Museum
Vessel Details
Current status:non-operational
Deck layout:open
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hull material and construction:double plankeddouble-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:inboard
Related materials:film
Related materials:references
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:other
Current status:museum vessel
Alternate Numbers

: 2703

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