HMAS
Fremantle
(I)

HMAS Fremantle (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J246/M246
Builder
Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane
Laid Down
11 February 1942
Launched
18 August 1942
Launched by
Mrs J Curtin, wife of the Prime Minister
Commissioned
24 March 1943
Decommissioned
22 June 1959
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
  • 1 Bofors (later)
  • Machine Guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 2)
  • 70 depth charges
Awards
Battle Honours

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

Fremantle commissioned at Brisbane on 24 March 1943 under the command of LEUT Albert N. Boulton RANR(S).

On completion of her trials in April 1943, Fremantle was assigned duty as an escort vessel on the east coast of Australia. At this period Japanese submarines were active in Australian waters and in the month preceding Fremantle’s first operational duty, seven ships had been sunk in coastal areas.

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

In August 1943 Fremantle left the east coast and proceeded to Darwin where she was based as an escort vessel, operating mainly between Darwin and Thursday Island, until April 1945. During this period on 21 months in northern waters the tide of war was steadily receding from the Australian theatre and her duties were confined mainly to routine uneventful merchant ship protection.

In June 1945 she arrived at Manus to begin a period of escort and guard ship duty in the New Guinea area which occupied the ship until the end of hostilities.

On 31 August 1945 Fremantle arrived at Hong Kong and whilst based there as a unit of the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla, took part in a series of clearing sweeps in Chinese waters. On 18 November 1945 she entered her name port Fremantle for the first time en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne. Fremantle paid off into Reserve in Melbourne on 25 January 1946.

Fremantle flying her decomissioning pennant in Port Melbourne, 25 January 1946.
Fremantle flying her decomissioning pennant in Port Melbourne, 25 January 1946.

Fremantle recommissioned at Melbourne on 10 December 1952 under the command of LCDR George C. Rance RN. On 8 March 1953 she reached Fremantle and commenced service as a training ship for the Western Australian area. In this role, until the scheme was abandoned, Fremantle introduced large numbers of National Service Trainees to naval life afloat.

In addition to her training duties, Fremantle also acted at times as a fisheries protection vessel with the Japanese Pearling Fleet in the Arafura Sea, and on survey and general fleet duties in the Western Australian area.

Fremantle finally paid off at Sydney for disposal on 22 June 1959. She had steamed 113,654 miles since recommissioning in 1952. In all, including her war time service, she had steamed 190,776 miles. Fremantle was sold on 6 January 1961 to Kinoshita (Australia) Pty Ltd to be broken up.

Further Reading

  1. Notable Service to the Empire: Australian Corvettes and the British Pacififc Fleet 1944 - 45 by Hugh Campbell - published by the Naval Historical Society of Australia Inc., Garden Island, 1995.
  2. Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men by Frank B. Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.