Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Australia - HMAS Bathurst

This nice Maxi Card dated 7th April 1993 commemorating HMAS Bathurst which was the first of sixty Australian Minesweepers (commonly known as corvettes) built during World War II in Australian shipyards as part of the Commonwealth Government's wartime shipbuilding programme, was sent to me by Diana from Canberra. Twenty (including Bathurst were built on Admiralty orders but manned and commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty-six were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

Bathurst (I) was commissioned at Sydney on 6 December 1940 under the command of LCDR A.V. Bunyan RANR(S). She began her career in January 1941 as a unit of the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla (RAN), operating on the east Australian coast. In March 1941 she left Australian waters for Malaya, where she operated as a patrol vessel based on Singapore until 26 May 1941. On 3 June 1941 she arrived at Colombo and there joined the Eastern Fleet for escort and patrol duties. At the close of June, Bathurst (I) entered the Red Sea, spending a month in those waters before docking at Alexandria on 4 August 1941. On 25 August 1941 Bathurst (I) returned to Aden, and then began a period of three and a half months on patrol in the Gulf of Tajura (French Somaliland), with the mission of preventing dhow traffic and blockade maintenance of the African coast. On 18 October 1941 she captured the French launch HERON, and dhows on 5 September and 14 November 1941. Red Sea patrols ended on 16 December when Bathurst (I) proceeded to Colombo, arriving on 29 December. Throughout 1942 she was based on Colombo for escort and patrol duties in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. On 18 October 1942 LCDR Bunyan was relieved by LCDR C. MacDonald RANR(S), after almost two years in command. At this stage of her career Bathurst (I) had steamed 70,000 miles and escorted more than 1,000,000 tons of shipping without loss.

Convoys between Bombay, the Persian Gulf and Aden kept Bathurst (I) almost constantly at sea during the period of January to August 1943. Interspersed with anti-submarine patrols she escorted twenty eight convoys safely across the Arabian Sea. In September 1943, with 102,000 miles steaming behind her, she began refitting at Colombo. Convoy escort duty between Colombo and Bombay resumed in November, and the year closed with Bathurst (I) at sea en route for Calcutta. Escort duty between Colombo to Bombay continued into 1944. At Bombay on 14 April Bathurst (I) played a worthy role in the rescue and salvage work that followed the explosion of the munition ships FORT STRIKINE and JALAPADMA. Fifteen ships were gutted by the resulting fires and large numbers of the local population killed and injured.

On 7 August 1944 Bathurst (I) reached Colombo after escorting her last Indian Ocean convoy. Three weeks later, on 29 August, she sailed for Australia, ending almost three and a half years Indian Ocean – Red Sea service. On 20 September 1944 she entered Fremantle harbour. Australian coastal anti-submarine patrols kept Bathurst (I) in home waters until April 1945 when she proceeded to New Guinea waters. At this stage of the Pacific War, with the Philippines in American hands, there remained only routine patrols for her until the end of hostilities in August 1945. The war ended, Bathurst (I) proceeded to the Far East as a unit of the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla (eleven Australian minesweepers) attached to the British Pacific Fleet. Based on Hong Kong the Flotilla carried out sweeping operations on the Chinese coast until mid November 1945.

On 9 December 1945 Bathurst (I) returned to Sydney, bringing her seagoing career to an end. She had steamed 160,165 miles. On 27 September 1946 she was placed in Reserve for disposal. Bathurst (I) was sold on 21 June 1948 to T. Carr and Co of Sydney as scrap.

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