HMAS
Cowra

HMAS Cowra
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J351
Builder
Poole & Steel, Sydney
Laid Down
12 August 1942
Launched
27 May 1943
Launched by
Mrs Spender, wife of a member of the Australian Advisory War Council
Commissioned
8 October 1943
Decommissioned
26 June 1953
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Performance
Speed 15.5 knots
Complement
Crew 85
Propulsion
Horsepower 2,000
Armament
Guns 1 x 12-pounder gun
Other Armament 3 x 20mm Oerlikons
Awards
Battle Honours

HMAS Cowra was one of sixty minesweepers similar to the 'Bangor' class of the Royal Navy built in Australian shipyards under the wartime Commonwealth Government Shipbuilding Programme. Twenty were constructed on behalf of the Admiralty, but commissioned and manned by the Royal Australian Navy; thirty-six (including Cowra) were built for the RAN and the remaining four for the Indian Navy.

Cowra was commissioned on 8 October 1943 under the command of Acting LCDR W.J. Gillies RANRCowra began her operational career in November 1943, escorting convoys on the east coast of Australia.

HMAS Cowra wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint
HMAS Cowra wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint

In March 1944 she transferred to the New Guinea theatre and took up escort and anti-submarine patrol duties until June 1944, when she proceeded to Melbourne for refit.

On 19 August 1944 Cowra departed Melbourne to return to New Guinea waters reaching Milne Bay at the close of the month. The following eleven months (excepting a brief visit to Brisbane in February 1945) were spent on patrol and escort, mainly in the Morotai area. The early months of 1945 were spent operating, between Sorido and Mios-Woendi. Some relief from the monotony of routine patrolling was gained in January 1945 when she bombarded Japanese held positions at Yalela Bay in the Northern Halmaheras. On 17 July 1945 Cowra's wartime service in the forward areas came to an end when she departed Langemak for Melbourne.

In the post-war period Cowra joined the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla and took part in mine clearance operations on the east coast of Australia and off Hobart, New Britain and the Solomon Islands. This phase of her career ended on 2 December 1946 when she reached Sydney to pay off, after steaming some 90,000 miles. She paid off on 4 December 1946.

 

HMAS Cowra in company with ML325 during a lighter moment in waters off Madang when permission was given for 'hands to bathe'.
HMAS Cowra in company with ML325 during a lighter moment in waters off Madang when permission was given for 'hands to bathe'.

On 20 February 1951 Cowra recommissioned as a Training Ship for National Service Ratings. She remained in active seagoing commission until 15 May 1953 when she commenced paying off into dockyard control after steaming a further 50,000 miles, bringing her seagoing career to a close. Cowra finally paid off on 26 June 1953. She was sold out of service in January 1961 to Kino Shito (Aust) Pty Ltd.