HMAS
Burnie

HMAS Burnie (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J198
Builder
Mort's Dock and Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
4 June 1940
Launched
25 October 1940
Launched by
Lady King, wife of the Chairman of Directors, Mort's Dock and Engineering Co
Commissioned
15 April 1941
Decommissioned
5 July 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
Other Armament 40 depth charges
Awards
Battle Honours
HMAS Burnie (I) Badge

HMAS Burnie 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 (including Burnie) were built on Admiralty order 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.

 

Lady King, the wife of the Chairman of Directors, Morts Dock Engineering Co Ltd, christens HMAS Burnie prior to her launching
Lady King, the wife of the Chairman of Directors, Morts Dock Engineering Co Ltd, christens HMAS Burnie prior to her launching
HMAS Burnie takes to the water for the first time
HMAS Burnie takes to the water for the first time

Burnie commissioned at Sydney on 15 April 1941 under the command Lieutenant George E. Gough RANR(S).

Burnie initially served with the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla, joining the Flotilla off Cape Otway on 10 May 1941. She was then based temporarily at Fremantle for escort and patrol duties. In company with HMAS Goulburn she left Sydney for Singapore in June 1941 via Brisbane, Townsville, Cooktown, Thursday Island and Darwin, arriving in Singapore on 12 July 1941.

HMAS Burnie decommissioned on 5th July 1946 after steaming 160,000 miles for the Royal Australian Navy.
HMAS Burnie decommissioned on 5th July 1946 after steaming 160,000 miles for the Royal Australian Navy.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941 Burnie was in Malayan waters. Thereafter, in company with other Australian corvettes, she helped to oppose the Japanese advance through the Netherlands East Indies. She was engaged in demolition work during this period - blowing up wharves, destroying oil and rubber stocks and military supplies - duties made extremely difficult by the constant Japanese air raids. During this period Burnie, for a time, wore the broad pennant of Commodore J.A. Collins RAN, then Commodore Commanding the China Force.

In September 1942 Burnie joined the Eastern Fleet and was engaged in anti-submarine patrols and escorting convoys to and from Bombay, Aden and Colombo.

In December 1944 Burnie and other Australian corvettes serving with the Eastern Fleet returned to Australia where they were formed into a Minesweeping Flotilla and attached to the British Pacific Fleet. In this capacity Burnie carried out anti-submarine duties and escorted convoys in the New Guinea, the Admiralties and the Philippines.

HMAS Burnie entering her namesake port in December 1945 wearing her British Pacific Fleet pennant number - B238
HMAS Burnie entering her namesake port in December 1945 wearing her British Pacific Fleet pennant number - B238

In August 1945 Burnie proceeded to Hong Kong where she was engaged in minesweeping operations. In November she was sweeping in Formosa Strait, Amoy, Morotai, Darwin and Fremantle.

In December 1945 Burnie paid an official visit to her namesake town in Tasmania where the ship's company was entertained by the citizens. In January 1946 she returned to Port Phillip Bay and gave some of the children from the Mallee the pleasure of having a trip on a real warship.

On 4 June 1946 Burnie, in company with her sister ships HMA Ships Ipswich and Toowoomba, departed Brisbane for Ceylon where they were to be handed over to the Royal Netherlands Navy. At Colombo on 5 July 1946 the three ships paid off and were transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy. Burnie was renamed Ceram. During her RAN commission Burnie had steamed over 160,000 miles. Ceram was removed from the effective list of the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1958.

Further Reading

  1. Notable Service to the Empire: Australian Corvettes and the British Pacific Fleet 1944-45 by Hugh Campbell - published by Naval Historical Society of Australia Inc, Garden Island, 1995.
  2. The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy by Iris Nesdale - published by the Author, October, 1982.
  3. Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men by Frank B. Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.