HMAS Cessnock (I)
Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Co Pty Ltd, Sydney
16 April 1941
17 October 1941
Lady Gordon, wife of Sir Thomas Gordon, a director of the construction firm
26 January 1942
12 July 1946
|Dimensions & Displacement|
|Draught||8 feet 6 inches|
|Machinery||Triple expansion, 2 shafts|
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.
Cessnock commissioned at Sydney on 26 January 1942 under the command of Acting Lieutenant Commander Thomas S. Marchington RNR (Rtd).
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.
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.
- 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.
- The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy by Iris Nesdale - published by the Author, October, 1982.
- Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men by Frank B. Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.