Tag Archives: Royal Australian Navy

Remembering Perth

HMAS Perth 1941

Commissioned 29 June 1933, HMS Amphion was a Leander-class light cruiser in the Royal Navy. In 1939, she was reborn in a sense and her name was changed to HMAS Perth (D29) on the occasion of her transfer to the Royal Australian Navy.

Her RAN career was tragically short. After much sharp service in the Med during the whole Crete debacle, she was sent back home to assist in the defense of Australia.

After surviving the hell of the Battle of the Java Sea, she picked up four Japanese torpedoes in the space of a few minutes at the midnight pitch-black engagement at Sunda Strait on 1 March 1942.

Of her 681 souls aboard, 353 were killed in battle. Her survivors may have been spared from Posideon’s grasp but had to endure three years as Japanese POWs, with nearly half never seeing home again.

Even her hulk, stripped over the years by unlicenced Indonesian marine salvagers who used explosives to break her apart on the seafloor, was desecrated.

However, her 1939 bell, cast to commemorate her new life in the RAN, was located in Indonesia by Australian wreck diver David Burchell and returned through the auspices of the government in 1978.

The Australian War Memorial on Friday, on the 77th anniversary of her loss, held a special Last Post Ceremony in honor of HMAS Perth, including the striking of the ship’s bell.

Good deal on slightly used minesweepers, some assembly required

If you are in the market for some pre-owned warships, the Royal Australian Navy wants to make a deal. Working through a commercial service, the Navy advertised the HMAS Hawkesbury and HMAS Norman for sale “Sold As Is Where Is.”

The 172-foot long mine hunters have composite hulls designed to “flex inwards if an undersea explosion occurs nearby,” which is always a good thing.

HMAS Hawkesbury left, and HMAS Norman are Huon-class coastal mine hunters commissioned in 2000. They have been in reserve for the past seven years. (Photo: Royal Australian Navy)

Built in 2000 as part of a six-ship class to an Italian design (Lerici-class, the same as the U.S. Navy’s short-lived Osprey-class MHCs) both Hawkesbury and Norman were laid up in 2011 and have been in storage ever since while the other four ships have remained with the fleet.

Sadly, it looks like their DS30B 30mm Bushmaster cannons and M2 .50-cal machine guns have been removed, but the vendor offering them for sale suggests they could be turned into luxury yachts or charter vessels.

The vendor suggests they could be converted to charter vessels or yachts. (Photo: Grey Online)

Not mentioned is a Jacques Cousteau/Steve Zissou-style recycle.

No price is listed but the vendor, Grays Online, does caution that the ships have had their shafts and propellers removed and would have to be towed off by the buyer, saying, “inspection is highly recommended.”

Give up a fish, bunk a frogman

The Royal Australian Navy has been in the submarine business since 1914 when they took a pair of British E-class boats (HMAS AE-1 and AE-2) under local operation. Since then, they operated a dozen different J, K and O-class vessels in WWII, picked up six Oberon-class boats in the 1960s– which were used extensively over 30+ years– and finally, built their own subs, the Swedish Kockums’-designed Collins-class submarines built in the 1990s. One big facet of the RAN’s sub operations going back to the 1940s is the carry of commando units from M& Z Special Forces, Beach Commandos and today combat diver-trained members of 2 Cdo Regt and the SAS.

However, the Collins are tight boats, just 254-feet oal, with many of the 50~ man crew already forced to hot bunk.

Enter new collapsible Submarine Accommodation Capsules, which can be stored in the same way as torpedos. Of course, you give up steel fish to accommodate a few frogmen or other transients, but hey, it’s a small boat.

Of course, historically, anything is better than sleeping on an actual torpedo, which is a longstanding historical trend…

Slumber Deep by Thomas Hart Benton

USS Bullhead (SS-332 )crewman reading in his bunk, atop a torpedo loading rack in one of the submarine’s torpedo rooms. Taken during a Pacific war patrol, circa Spring 1945 80-G-49457

Melbourne hawks in review

Here we see a pair of McDonnell Douglas A4G Skyhawks of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm 805 Squadron (VF-805) coming in low and hot over the RAN’s only operable aircraft carrier of the time, HMAS Melbourne (R21) sometime in the 1970s.

While the RAN FAA traces its lineage back to the Great War, it was only after WWII that it was able to stand up fixed-wing carrier squadrons, flying Hawker Sea Fury’s in Korea. After a brief interlude in Sea Venoms, 805 Squadron picked up their Seahawks in 1968.

The two ‘Hawks shown above were part of 21 A-4s operated by the RAN between 1967-84 with #887 eventually transferring to New Zealand from where she was sold in 2012 to Draken International (where she still flies as a contract aggressor in Florida). As for #888, she crashed in 1979 but her pilot, a U.S. Navy aviator on exchange duty, was rescued.