HMAS
Cessnock
(I)

HMAS Cessnock (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J175
Builder
Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Co Pty Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
16 April 1941
Launched
17 October 1941
Launched by
Lady Gordon, wife of Sir Thomas Gordon, a director of the construction firm
Commissioned
26 January 1942
Decommissioned
12 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 12-pounder gun (later 1 x 4-inch HA gun)
  • 1 x Bofors (later)
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 6, then 4)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Awards
Battle Honours

HMAS Cessnock 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 Cessnock) were built on Admiralty order but commissioned and manned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty-six were built for the RAN and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

 

 


Launching of HMAS Cessnock, Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney.

Cessnock commissioned at Sydney on 26 January 1942 under the command of Acting Lieutenant Commander Thomas S. Marchington RNR (Rtd).

HMAS Cessnock being launched on the 17 October 1941.
HMAS Cessnock being launched on the 17 October 1941.

Following her period of working up in the Sydney area, Cessnock commenced duty as an escort vessel assigned to the forces engaged in protecting the flow of shipping between Townsville and New Guinea.

In September 1942, having steamed some 26,000 miles on escort duty, Cessnock returned to Sydney and thence on 17 September 1942 proceeded for Albany, where, until the end of October she operated as an anti-submarine patrol vessel in King George Sound followed by similar duty in the Fremantle approaches until 23 November when she sailed in company with her sister ship HMAS Toowoomba for Kilindini, in Kenya, to join the British Eastern Fleet.

Cessnock reached Kilindini via Diego Garcia and the Seychelles on 16 December. There for a period she operated on local escort and anti-submarine patrol duties. On 25 January 1943 she proceeded on escort duty to Aden. In February – March 1943 she was engaged escorting convoys between Aden and the Persian Gulf and on patrol in the Straits of Hormuz. On 4 April she sailed from Bandar Abbas as part of the escort of a nineteen ship convoy to Bombay where she underwent a short refit (10 – 29 April). On 6 May 1943 Cessnock reached Aden from Bombay and two days later sailed for the Mediterranean in company with HMAS Ipswich.

Cessnock reached Alexandria on 1 June after being delayed by collision with a dhow. For the next four months she was constantly in service as an escort vessel over the entire length of the Mediterranean including participation in the Allied invasion of Sicily.

On two occasions (one in August and one in September) she entered the Atlantic to rendezvous with Mediterranean bound convoys for which she acted as part escort. Each comprised seventy-five ships.

 

HMAS Cessnock was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers built for service during World War II
HMAS Cessnock was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers built for service during World War II

On 25 September 1943 Cessnock passed through the Suez Canal and proceeding to Aden resumed her former duty as an Indian Ocean escort vessel attached to the Eastern Fleet operating at first between Aden, the Persian Gulf and Bombay.

Escort and general fleet duty in the Indian Ocean kept Cessnock almost constantly at sea from the Persian Gulf, India and Ceylon in the north and as far south as East London in South Africa until January 1945. On 26 January she detached from the Eastern Fleet and departed Trincomalee for Fremantle where she arrived on 6 February 1945 forming at that time a unit of the 22nd Minesweeping Flotilla (HMA Ships Cairns, Cessnock, Gawler, Geraldton, Ipswich, Tamworth, Wollongong, Launceston and Pirie) for service with the British Pacific Fleet.

In March 1945 Cessnock proceeded to New Guinea and the Philippines on escort duty. Late in April 1945 she returned to Australia for refit which kept her in dockyard hands until the end of June. In July she returned to the forward areas and after hostilities had ended proceeded to Japan being present at Tokyo for the surrender ceremony. Afterwards she served in Chinese waters and in the Borneo – New Guinea area. Cessnock returned to Sydney in January 1946. She paid off at Sydney on 12 July 1946.

Cessnock was sold on 23 April 1947 to the Nan Chiao Shipping and Salvage Co Ltd, Shanghai, for breaking up.

Four battle honours were awarded to HMAS Cessnock for her wartime service; Pacific 1942, New Guinea 1942, Indian Ocean 1942-45, and Sicily 1943.
Four battle honours were awarded to HMAS Cessnock for her wartime service; Pacific 1942, New Guinea 1942, Indian Ocean 1942-45, and Sicily 1943.

 

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.