HMAS
Brisbane
(I)

HMAS Brisbane (I)
Class
Town Class
Type
Light Cruiser
Builder
HMA Naval Dockyard, Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Laid Down
25 January 1913
Launched
30 September 1915
Launched by
Mrs Fisher, wife of the Prime Minister
Commissioned
31 October 1916
Decommissioned
24 September 1935
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 5,400 tons
Length 456 feet 8 3/8 inches (overall)
Beam 49 feet 10 inches
Draught 19 feet 11 inches (maximum)
Performance
Speed 25 ½ knots
Complement
Crew 485
Propulsion
Machinery Parsons turbines, 4 screws
Horsepower 25,000
Armament
Guns
  • 8 x 6-inch guns
  • 1 x 3-inch anti-aircraft gun
  • 1 x 12-pounder gun
  • 4 x 3-pounder guns
  • 10 smaller guns
Torpedoes 2 x 21-inch submerged torpedo tubes (broadside)
Awards
Battle Honours INDIAN OCEAN 1917
HMAS Brisbane (I) Badge

HMAS Brisbane and her sister ships HMA Ships Melbourne and Sydney were the first cruisers built for the RAN. They were constructed to the design of the 'Chatham' group of the British 'Town' Class.

Brisbane was launched on 30 September 1915 by Mrs Fisher the wife of the then Prime Minister Andrew Fisher. Brisbane commissioned at Sydney on 31 October 1916 under the command of Captain Claude L. Cumberlege RN.

 

Brisbane on the slipway at Cockatoo Island, Sydney.
Brisbane on the slipway at Cockatoo Island, Sydney.
Brisbane's launch on 30 September 1915
Brisbane's launch on 30 September 1915

On 13 December 1916 she departed Sydney for war service in the Mediterranean, arriving at Malta on 4 February 1917. However, after a brief stay during which she took no part in operations, the ship was transferred to the Indian Ocean to assist in the hunt for the German commerce raiders Wolf and Seeadler. The transfer of a Sopwith Baby seaplane from the seaplane carrier HMS Raven (II) to Brisbane early in 1917 was the RAN's first involvement in naval aviation. When ordered to Australia in June 1917 the ship unfortunately had to give up the aircraft. She operated on patrol duty off the Western Australian coast until late September.

HMAS Brisbane ship's mascot
HMAS Brisbane ship's mascot

Between October 1917 and January 1918 Brisbane served on patrol duty in the western Pacific, visiting the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Ocean Island, Tarawa (Gilbert Group) and Fiji. From February to October 1918 she served in Australian waters.

On 30 October 1918 Brisbane departed Fremantle for England and was at sea en route Colombo to Aden when the Armistice of 11 November 1918 ended hostilities in World War I. She reached Mudros on Lemnos Island on 26 November 1918 and spent a month with the Australian Destroyer Flotilla in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmora and the Black Sea before completing her voyage to England. At Portsmouth Dockyard in January 1919 the ship commenced a refit lasting three months.

Brisbane sailed from Portsmouth for Australia on 17 April 1919. Earlier in the year the British Admiralty had presented to Australia six 'J' Class submarines. Escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Sydney and the submarine depot ship HMAS Platypus, the submarines had left Portsmouth for Australia earlier in the month. Later Sydney detached. En route Brisbane assumed responsibility for the escort of HMA Submarine J5 and towed her for some of the voyage to Sydney. Proceeding ahead of Platypus and the other submarines, Brisbane and J5 arrived at Sydney on 27 June 1919.

Brisbane served mainly in Australian waters until she paid off into Reserve at Sydney on 4 August 1922. In March 1921 she had visited Singapore flying the flag of Rear Admiral Sir Percy Grant KCVO CB RN, First Naval Member, who for the purposes of attendance at a conference had been temporarily appointed as Commander-in-Chief, Australian Naval Station.

On 14 April 1923 Brisbane recommissioned at Sydney. She served mainly in Australian waters until February 1925 when, in company with Sydney, she again visited Singapore in connection with a naval conference. On that occasion Rear Admiral P.H. Hall-Thompson CB CMG RN, First Naval Member, was temporarily appointed as Commander-in-Chief, Australian Naval Station, as Sir Percy Grant had been in 1921. Rear Admiral Hall-Thompson hoisted his flag in Sydney.

Tram ticket used by a HMAS Brisbane crew member in Japan, May 1925
Tram ticket used by a HMAS Brisbane crew member in Japan, May 1925

From February to August 1925 Brisbane served on exchange duty in the Far East with the China Squadron of the Royal Navy. HMS Concord replaced her. Brisbane returned to Sydney on 30 August 1925 and paid off into Reserve on 7 October 1925.

HMAS Brisbane in north-east Asian waters (Naval Heritage Collection)
HMAS Brisbane in north-east Asian waters (Naval Heritage Collection)

On completion of a refit Brisbane recommissioned at Sydney on 17 November 1925 as a training ship. In this role the ship was based at Flinders Naval Depot. She paid off again at Sydney on 30 October 1926 to undergo a long refit and recommissioned for training duties on 28 June 1928. The ship paid off into Reserve at Sydney on 22 January 1929. As a training ship Brisbane served mainly in Australian waters, although in August 1928 she visited Honolulu to take part in the sesquicentennial celebrations of the discovery of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands) by Captain James Cook RN.

HMAS Brisbane's ships band
HMAS Brisbane's ships band

On 16 August 1929 Brisbane commissioned in 'C' Class Reserve and on 1 December 1930 she paid off into 'E' Class Reserve.

The ship recommissioned at Sydney on 2 April 1935 and on 2 May 1935 she sailed for England manned by a complement which would form the balance of the ship's company of the second HMAS Sydney (ex-HMS Phaeton), a Modified 'Leander' Class light cruiser. En route Brisbane assisted the sloop HMS Hastings, which had run aground in the Red Sea. The ship arrived at Portsmouth on 12 July 1935, where she finally paid off on 24 September 1935.

In June 1936 Brisbane was sold for breaking up to Thomas Ward & Co Ltd of Sheffield, England, for £19,125.

HMAS Brisbane entering port flying her decommissioning pennant
HMAS Brisbane entering port flying her decommissioning pennant

 

Program from HMAS Brisbane's launching

Program from HMAS Brisbane's launching