HMAS
Burdekin

HMAS Burdekin
Class
River Class
Type
Frigate
Pennant
K376
Builder
Walkers Ltd
Laid Down
17 January 1942
Launched
30 June 1943
Launched by
Miss K. Collings, daughter of the Minister for the Interior and Leader of the Government in the Senate
Commissioned
27 June 1944
Decommissioned
18 April 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement
  • 1,489 tons (standard)
  • 2,120 tons (full load)
Length 301 feet 4 inches
Beam 36 feet 2 inches
Draught 12 feet
Performance
Speed 20 knots
Complement
Crew 140
Propulsion
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 5,500
Armament
Guns
  • 2 x 4-inch guns
  • 2 x 40mm Bofors
Other Armament
  • 8 x 20mm Oerlikons
  • Depth Charge Throwers
  • 1 x Hedgehog
Awards
Battle Honours
HMAS Burdekin Badge

HMAS Burdekin was ordered as part of Australia’s shipbuilding program during the Second World War. Twelve of these Australian built frigates were to enter service with the Royal Australian Navy. A further ten were ordered but cancelled as the war drew to a close.

Eight, HMA Ships Barcoo, Barwon, Burdekin, Diamantina, Gascoyne, Hawkesbury, Lachlan and Macquarie, were built to the British River Class design and Australia likewise named its frigates after Australian rivers. A further four, HMA Ships Condamine, Culgoa, Murchison and Shoalhaven, were also named after Australian rivers but were built to the design of the Royal Navy’s Bay Class Frigates. These latter ships were generally known as Modified River Class Frigates although they are sometimes referred to as Bay Class.

HMAS Burdekin
HMAS Burdekin fitting out at the Walkers yard in Maryborough, Queensland.

Burdekin commissioned at Brisbane on 27 June 1944 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Thomas S. Marchington RNR.

Arriving in New Guinea waters in mid October 1944, Burdekin was one of the many ships of the Royal Australian Navy which put in months of hard work escorting valuable convoys, performing anti-submarine patrols and generally made it possible for the enormous tonnage of Allied shipping to arrive safely in the forward areas to support the Allied advance.

On 19 November 1944 Burdekin bombarded the northern tip of the Halmaheras and was engaged continuously in escort duties between New Guinea and the Philippines after the American invasion of these islands.

 

Burdekin conducting naval gunfire support off Halmahera in the Dutch East Indies (R C Higgins collection)
Burdekin conducting naval gunfire support off Halmahera in the Dutch East Indies (R C Higgins collection)
Burdekin's crew celebrating Christmas Day 1944 (R C Higgins collection)
Burdekin's crew celebrating Christmas Day 1944 (R C Higgins collection)

In May 1945 Burdekin operated in support of the Australian amphibious landing at Tarakan in Borneo, and carried out surveillance operations in the Borneo and Celebes areas. Following escort duties to Morotai, she returned to Sydney for refit.

With the cessation of hostilities in August 1945, Burdekin was one of a number of ships that made an unsuccessful attempt to contact Japanese forces on the island of Ambon. Shortly afterwards, on 8 September 1945, the surrender of Dutch Borneo by the Japanese was accepted on board Burdekin by Major General E.J. Milford, General Officer Commanding 7th Australian Division, from Vice Admiral Mitchishi Kamada. A surrender table had been arranged on the starboard side of Burdekin's quarterdeck. The Japanese were received on board by the First Lieutenant and taken to their position forward of the table, facing aft. General Milford and Commander Marchington then proceeded to the table. A number of questions were put to Admiral Kamada, and when the matter of signing the surrender was raised he said that he would sign on behalf of the Japanese Navy only. General Milford therupon adopted a strong tone. The instrument of Surrender was produced and Kamada signed.

Vice Admiral Kamada is escorted on board Burdekin to sign the instrument of surrender.
Vice Admiral Kamada is escorted on board Burdekin to sign the instrument of surrender (R.C. Higgins collection)
Layout for Surrender Ceremony
Layout for Surrender Ceremony
Crew of HMAS Burdekin onboard during World War II
Japanese Surrender Ceremony held onboard HMAS Burdekin on 8 September 1945

The official history of the RAN in World War II records that:

Vice-Admiral Kamada was visibly affected throughout the ceremony, and particularly so when laying his sword before General Milford at the table. The surrender gave great satisfaction to the ship's company, most of whom were able to witness it from various positions.

Vice Admiral Kamada following the surrender of his sword to General Milford
Vice Admiral Kamada following the surrender of his sword to General Milford (R.C. Higgins collection)

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Admiral Kamada and his staff disembarked, and at 1:30 pm on the 8th, Burdekin weighed and proceeded for Balikpapan being joined en route by HMAS Gascoyne.

In company with her sister ship HMAS Gascoyne, Burdekin supported occupation operations in Borneo and Macassar, as well as evacuating prisoners of war.

Burdekin returned to Sydney on 5 January 1946. She sailed from Sydney for Melbourne on 20 March 1946, arriving two days later. Burdekin paid off into Reserve at Melbourne on 18 April 1946 and was laid up at Corio Bay, Geelong. In 1956 she was towed to Sydney.

At the end of the war many of Burdekin's crew returned to their civilian occupations bringing an end to their naval service
At the end of the war many of Burdekin's crew returned to their civilian occupations bringing an end to their naval service (R.C. Higgins collection)

Declared for disposal on 9 November 1960, Burdekin was eventually sold on 21 September 1961 to the Tolo Mining and Smelting Co Ltd of Hong Kong, together with HMA Ships Condamine, Hawkesbury and Reserve, for an overall amount of £53,000 sterling. The purchase by Tolo was financed by the Mitsubishi Co of Japan, through its Australian agent, H.C. Sleigh. Burdekin was released to Mitsubishi to be broken up for scrap in Japan. Reserve, formerly an RAN tug, left Sydney for Japan late in December 1961, towing Burdekin and Condamine.

HMAS Burdekin
HMAS Burdekin returns to Sydney following service in the Pacific