HMAS
Goorangai

HMAS Goorangai
Type
Steam Trawler
Pennant
GR
Builder
State Dockyard, Newcastle, NSW
Commissioned
9 October 1939
Decommissioned
20 November 1940
Fate
Sunk after collision with MV Duntroon
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 223 tons
Length 117 feet
Beam 22 feet 1 inch
Draught 13 feet 8 inches
Performance
Speed 9.5 knots
Complement
Crew 24
Armament
Guns 1 x 12-pounder QF gun
Other Armament Depth charges

The steam trawler MV Goorangai was built for the New South Wales Government at the State Dockyard in Newcastle in 1919 and was sold to Cam & Sons Pty Ltd of Sydney in 1926.

MV Goorangai prior to commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy
MV Goorangai prior to commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy

She was requisitioned for naval service on 8 September 1939, one of eight vessels requisitioned from Cam & Sons, and commissioned as HMAS Goorangai at Melbourne on 9 October 1939 for service as an auxiliary minesweeper. She joined Minesweeping Group 54 in Melbourne and operated primarily in Bass Strait.

 

Members of the crew onboard Goorangai before the ship commissioned in 1939
Lieutenant Commander Norman Trace, RANR, with members of Goorangai's crew prior to the ship commissioning in 1939.
HMAS Goorangai in Port Phillip Bay. Goorangai's wartime pennant number is prominently displayed on her hull.
HMAS Goorangai in Port Phillip Bay. Goorangai's wartime designation is prominently displayed on her hull.

In the evening of 20 November 1940, while en route from Queenscliff to Portsea in Port Phillip Bay where she intended to anchor for the evening, she collided with the 10,364 ton, outward-bound passenger-liner, MV Duntroon, which struck her amidships on the port side. Duntroon’s captain had believed that she was on a parallel course to Goorangai and overtaking her. By the time he realised Goorangai’s true course, with Duntroon travelling at more than 17 knots, it was too late to avoid the collision. Goorangai was cut in two and sank in less than a minute with the loss of her entire crew of 24. Just six bodies were recovered in subsequent salvage operations. She was the first ship lost by the RAN in World War II.

The 10,364 ton MV Duntroon, which collided with the 223 ton HMAS Goorangai on 20 November 1940
The 10,364 ton MV Duntroon, which collided with the 223 ton HMAS Goorangai on 20 November 1940

The wreck of Goorangai lay inside the shipping transit zone in less than 15 meters of water and was considered a hazard to navigation. She was demolished by explosive charges early in 1941.

HMAS Goorangai conducting minesweeping operations in heavy weather in Bass Strait
HMAS Goorangai conducting minesweeping operations in heavy weather in Bass Strait

The news of the collision quickly reached media outlets ashore which believed that normal wartime censorship provisions did not apply, as Goorangai’s loss was not due to enemy action and did not involve aspects of security, and claimed the right of immediate publication. The Naval Board, however, secured a censorship ban until the next-of-kin of those lost had been informed, an action later upheld by the Government. On 10 December, the War Cabinet confirmed supplementary censorship instructions which provided for the loss of service personnel in accidents in Australia or Australian waters.

HMAS Goorangai alongside in Port Phillip Bay
HMAS Goorangai alongside in Port Phillip Bay

On 16 November 1995, the wreck of Goorangai was declared a historic shipwreck as specified in the Historic Shipwrecks Act (1981).

Members of Goorangai's crew relaxing with a cup of tea on the morning of her collision with MV Duntroon, 20 November 1940
Members of Goorangai's crew photographed on the morning of her collision with MV Duntroon, 20 November 1940.

The men who lost their lives in HMAS Goorangai on 20 November 1940 were;

  • Commissioned Officer from Warrant Rank D. McGregor, RANR(S)
  • Warrant Officer K.J. Matheson, RANR(S)
  • Lieutenant Commander G.W. Boyle, RANR, Minesweeping Advisor
  • Steward B. Buchanan, RANR
  • Ordinary Seaman A. Carter, RANR
  • Signalman C.C. Cox, RANR
  • Signalman J.H. Dungey, RANR
  • Able Seaman N.L. Farquharson, RANR
  • Engine Room Artificer H. Gilroy, RANR
  • Chief Engine Room Artificer C.W. Green, RANR
  • Ordinary Seaman F.R. Hack, RANR
  • Stoker H.H. Johnson, RANR
  • Ordinary Seaman W.V. Johnston, RANR
  • Leading Seaman A. Kemp, RANR
  • Able Seaman A.T.R. Ladlow, RANR
  • Ordinary Telegraphist A. MacDonell, RANR
  • Stoker E. McLaughlan, RANR
  • Cook, M.W. Madden, RANR
  • Stoker L.W.K. Mainsbridge, RANR
  • Leading Stoker J. Moxey, RANR
  • Engine Room Artificer R.P. Redman, RANR
  • Able Seaman J. Sanders, RANR
  • Petty Officer F.H. Wadds, RANR
  • Able Seaman R Wadrop, RANR
The HMAS Goorangai memorial at Queenscliff, 27 November 1986
The HMAS Goorangai memorial at Queenscliff, 27 November 1986
The HMAS Goorangai memorial plaque at HMAS Cerberus, 6 April 1997
The HMAS Goorangai memorial plaque at HMAS Cerberus, 6 April 1997