HMAS
Geelong
(I)

HMAS Geelong (I)
Pennant
J201
Builder
Melbourne Harbour Trust, Williamstown
Laid Down
16 October 1940
Launched
22 April 1941
Launched by
Lady Dugan, wife of the Governor of Victoria
Commissioned
16 January 1942
Decommissioned
18 October 1944
Fate
Sank on 18 October 1944 following a collision with United States Tanker York
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Performance
Speed 15 knots
Complement
Crew 85
Propulsion
Horsepower 1750
Armament
Guns
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons
  • Depth charges chutes and throwers
Awards
Battle Honours

HMAS Geelong 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 Geelong) were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

HMAS Geelong was laid down at Melbourne Harbour Trust, Williamstown, Melbourne, Victoria on 16 October 1940. She was launched on 22 April 1941 by Lady Dugan, wife of the Governor of Victoria, and was the first RAN warship to carry the name of the port city located on Corio Bay and the Barwon River, in the state of Victoria. Geelong is 75km south west of the state capital, Melbourne, and is the second largest Victorian city.

HMAS Geelong commissioned at Melbourne on 16 January 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Colin G Hill, MBE, RANR(S).

Left: Stokers working in the boiler room aboard Geelong (AWM 075745). Right: Engine room artificers also worked in machinery spaces, maintaining and repairing vital equipment. (AWM 075743)

Left: Cooks in the galley of Geelong preparing a meal (AWM 075736). Right: Ratings working in the naval store aboard Geelong (AWM 075738).

After commissioning Geelong proceeded to her namesake city the following day for a one day visit, after which she commenced her trials and working up exercises.


Left: Signalmen closed up on Geelong's flag deck. (AWM 075723). Right: Morse code, sent by directional flashing light, was routinely used to pass signals between ships. Here Geelong's signalmen can be seen receiving a signal while manning the ship's 20-inch searchlight (AWM 075724).

Left: Crew members loading a depth charge thrower onboard Geelong (AWM 075719). Right: Geelong's fire control party during a damage control drill. (AWM 075726).

Operational war service began with a brief period of minesweeping and anti-submarine duty on the Australian east coast. On 8 March 1942 Geelong departed from Brisbane for New Caledonia where she served on anti-submarine duties in the Noumea area until May 1942. In June 1942 she began a period of convoy escort duty between Sydney and Queensland ports which lasted until January 1944, when she proceeded to Adelaide for a refit which lasted until March 1944.

One of the last images taken of HMAS Geelong before she was lost through collision. (AWM 075763)

Left: Able Seaman BK Barrow, operating the ASDIC (submarine detection equipment) aboard Geelong (AWM 075741). Right: An engine room artificer operating a small lathe aboard Geelong. (AWM 075744)

Left: Geelong's gun crew loadiing the 4-inch gun during a drill. (AWM 075716). Right: The gun crew firing the 4-inch Mark XIX gun. The weapon in this image is sited on a Mark XXII mounting. (AWM 075717)

Following a further brief period of service in Australian waters, Geelong proceeded to the New Guinea theatre of operations, arriving at Milne Bay on 17 April 1944. The next six months were spent on convoy escort duties in the South West Pacific Area, mainly in New Guinea and New Britain waters, and as an anti-submarine patrol vessel in the Solomons Sea.


Left: Sub Lieutenant R Frewin, RAN, on the bridge of Geelong as the vessel proceeds along the coast of New Guinea, circa 1944. (AWM 075746). Right: A signalman in Geelong using an aldis lamp to signal the port authority as they prepare to enter Hombolt Bay, New Guinea, circa 1944. (AWM 075754)

Left: Officers in the wardroom of Geelong (AWM 075773). Right: Crew members enjoying a yarn on the stern of Geelong. (AWM 075761)

On 18 October 1944 Geelong sank following a collision with the United States tanker York (10,488 tons) in position 6°4´S, 147°45´E, north of Langemak, New Guinea. There were no casualties. The survivors were picked up by York and landed at Langemak, from where they were taken to Milne Bay by aircraft and her sister ship HMAS Ararat.


Left: Survivors of the crew of Geelong, which sunk following a collision with the US tanker York (AWM 076609). Right: Aerial port bow view of the American tanker York which rammed and sank Geelong on 18 October 1944.
HMAS Geelong General Arrangement Drawing (Webb Warships)
HMAS Geelong General Arrangement Drawing. (Webb Warships Pty Ltd 1977)

Further reading

  • '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.
  • 'The Australian Centenary History of Defence Volume III, The Royal Australian Navy' edited by David Stevens, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2001.