HMAS
Inverell

HMAS Inverell (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J233
Builder
Mort's Dock & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
7 December 1941
Launched
2 May 1942
Launched by
Mrs T.S. Punch, the Mayoress of Inverell
Commissioned
17 September 1942
Decommissioned
14 June 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Performance
Speed 15 knots
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)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Awards
Battle Honours

 

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

Inverell commissioned at Sydney on 17 September 1942 under the command of Lieutenant John R. Suffren RANR(S).

After a period of working up the ship commenced her operational service on 7 November when she departed Sydney to assume escort duty with a Melbourne bound convoy. Escort duty on the Australian east coast occupied her until the end of December, when she sailed from Sydney to take up similar duties in northern waters. For ten months Inverell was employed mainly in running between Thursday Island and Darwin, with one trip to Onslow in February 1943.

HMAS Inverell in heavy swell
Inverell in heavy swell.

On 11 November 1943 Inverell arrived at Williamstown Naval Dockyard to undergo a refit. She sailed for the north again on 16 December to resume convoy escort and patrol duties.

Early in February 1944 Inverell rescued eight survivors from a United States Army Air Force Liberator bomber which had crashed on Croker Island, Northern Territory. The pilot, who had been seriously injured, died on board and the remaining seven survivors were landed in Darwin. Except for a period between May and July 1945 and brief visits in 1945 and 1946, Inverell's service in northern Australian waters came to an end on 22 September 1944, when she sailed for Fremantle.

The ship was based at Fremantle until May 1945 and continued her routine escort and patrol duties, but was mainly engaged in exercising with United States Navy and Royal Navy submarines operating from Western Australia.

On 4 May Inverell departed Fremantle for Darwin, where she arrived on 22 May. After a period occupied with minesweeping and exercises the ship sailed from Darwin on 11 July, towing the Services Reconnaissance Department vessel HMAS River Snake, accompanied by Inverell's sister ship HMAS Stawell as Senior Officer. Late in the voyage River Snake proceeded under her own power and the other two ships arrived at Morotai on 17 July. Inverell was occupied mainly on patrol duties until the end of hostilities on 15 August.

With the end of hostilities the ship remained busily occupied with various duties related to the assumption of control of Netherlands East Indies territory from the Japanese. A Port Directorate was established in Inverell from 21 September to 18 November, with her Commanding Officer as Port Director Macassar. The ship's duties in that period took her to Borneo, Amboina and Morotai. On 29 November 1945 she sailed from Morotai for Australia.

Crew members onboard HMAS Inverell
Crew members onboard HMAS Inverell

After a month's duty mainly on the Queensland coast, including a brief visit out of the State's waters to Grafton, Inverell arrived at Brisbane on 25 December 1945 to commence preparations for paying off into Reserve. Various factors made this process a somewhat protracted one and the ship did not pay off until 14 June 1946. She had steamed 93,720 miles since commissioning.

On 4 November 1947 Inverell's sister ship HMAS Echuca departed Brisbane with Inverell under tow. The ship arrived at Sydney on 17 November. Inverell remained in Reserve at Sydney.

Inverell and three of her sister ships (Echuca, Kiama and Stawell) were presented by the Australian Government to the New Zealand Government on 5 March 1952. Inverell commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy at Sydney on 10 April 1952. After a refit she was again placed in Reserve. In 1965 she began a refit to convert her for training and fisheries patrol duties as a replacement for HMNZS Rotoiti. On 15 August 1965 Inverell recommissioned at Auckland. She paid off at Devonport Naval Base, Auckland, on 19 August 1976. On 1 November 1977 the ship was sold for scrap to Pacific Scrap Limited.

Further Reading

  1. The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy by Iris Nesdale - published by the Author, October, 1982.
  2. Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men by Frank B. Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996