HMAS
Bunbury
(I)

HMAS Bunbury (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J241
Builder
Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane
Laid Down
1 November 1941
Launched
16 May 1942
Launched by
Mrs Cooper, wife of Treasurer of Queensland
Commissioned
3 January 1943
Decommissioned
26 August 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Performance
Speed 15 knots
Complement
Crew 85
Propulsion
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 2,000
Armament
Guns
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • 1 x 12-pounder gun (temporary)
  • 1 Bofors (later)
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 2)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Awards
Battle Honours
HMAS Bunbury (I) Badge

HMAS Bunbury was one 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. Twenty were built on Admiralty order but manned and commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty-six (including Bunbury ) were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

Bunbury commissioned at Brisbane on 3 January 1943 under the command of Lieutenant John S. Bell RANR(S).

HMAS Bunbury began operational duty as an escort vessel on the east coast of Australia. At this time (January 1943) the Japanese were beginning their third and last attempt to disrupt the flow of supplies to the forward areas by stationing submarines in Australian coastal waters. However, although eleven ships were lost off the Australian coast before the enemy withdrew in May 1943, none were sunk or damaged while being escorted by Bunbury .


HMAS Bunbury was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers built for the Royal Australian Navy during World War II

In late April 1943 Bunbury transferred to the northern area and based on Townsville began escorting convoys to Port Moresby and Milne Bay. These duties, which were arduous under the tropical conditions but uneventful, kept Bunbury almost constantly at sea until January 1944 when she proceeded to Melbourne for refit.

In March 1944 she returned to the Now Guinea theatre, where she was engaged on escort and general duties, until forced to return to Brisbane for repairs in April 1944 after running aground at Cape Cretin.

Returning to New Guinea in May 1944, Bunbury resumed escort duties mainly between Madang, Langemak, Hollandia and Aitape. In August 1944 she began escorting convoys between Thursday Island and Darwin. In September she proceeded to Fremantle via the west coast, thence to Adelaide for docking.


HMAS Bunbury decommissioned on 26 August 1946 after steaming over 100,000 miles for the Royal Australian Navy

On 31 October 1944 Bunbury returned to Fremantle having visited her namesake town for the only time. Based on Fremantle she was used for tactical exercises with United States Navy submarines until 17 December when a collision with HM Submarine Sea Rover put her in dockyard hands for a month. On 12 January 1945 she resumed her interrupted exercise programme with American submarines until 17 April, when she sailed via Onslow and Thursday Island for New Guinea, where she operated on patrol and as a guard ship in the Mios Woendi, Biak and Morotai area. On 7 July 1945 she sailed for Adelaide for refit, bringing her war service to a close. By the time she reached Adelaide she had steamed 88,000 miles on war service.

Bunbury following the addition of Type A286 Air/Surface Warning radar
Bunbury following the addition of Type A286 Air/Surface Warning radar
Bunbury c.1945. Note the Type A272 surface warning radar fitted above her bridge
Bunbury c.1945. Note the Type A272 surface warning radar fitted above her bridge

In November 1945 Bunbury joined the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla for sweeping operations off Hobart and in Spencer Gulf. Work with the Flotilla in Australian waters continued until 29 May 1946 when Bunbury arrived in Sydney to pay off. Bunbury paid off on 26 August 1946 bringing her seagoing career to a close after steaming 101,000 miles since commissioning.

Bunbury was sold on 6 January 1961 to Kinoshita (Australia) Pty Ltd for breaking up. Her ship's bell was presented to the City of Bunbury where it is currently on display.

Further Reading

  1. The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy by Iris Nesdale - published by the Author, October, 1982
  2. Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men by Frank B. Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996