HMAS
Kiama

HMAS Kiama (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J353
Builder
Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane
Laid Down
2 November 1942
Launched
3 July 1943
Launched by
Mrs Lawson, wife of Minister for Transport
Commissioned
26 January 1944
Decommissioned
3 April 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet 2 inches
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 HA gun
Awards
Battle Honours

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

Kiama commissioned at Brisbane on 26 January 1944 under the command of Lieutenant Samuel J. Bensen RANR(S).

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

Kiama began her operational wartime career in March 1944, when she arrived at Milne Bay for service in New Guinea waters. The first three months of duty were almost entirely occupied in escorting New Guinea coastal convoys. In June 1944, she was engaged on anti-submarine patrols in the Solomon Sea. In July 1944, New Guinea convoy duties were resumed.

In September 1944 Kiama was engaged in troop transport operations between New Guinea and New Britain and on the New Guinea coast. In October 1944 the escorting of convoys was resumed and continued almost without break to the end of the year. At the close of 1944, Kiama had with the exception of a brief visit to Cairns, served continuously in New Guinea waters for a period of more than eight months. During that time the ship steamed some 30,000 miles and was at sea for more than 3,000 hours.

On 21 December 1944 Kiama arrived in Sydney. On Christmas Day the ship's company was recalled from leave to go to the assistance of the American ship Robert J. Walker, which had been torpedoed and was sinking off the New South Wales coast. Anti-submarine patrols followed until the close of the year. On 3 January 1945 she reached Adelaide and commenced a period in refit.

Kiama resumed service in February 1945, arriving at Fremantle on the 14th of the month. She spent the next two months in Western Australian waters exercising with American submarines based at Fremantle.

On 7 May 1945 she arrived at Port Moresby to begin a further period of service in New Guinea waters. Later in May she carried out a series of coastal bombardments of eastern Buka Island and north eastern Bougainville areas. Bombardments of the same area were repeated in June 1945.

HMAS Kiama in heavy swell
HMAS Kiama in heavy swell

In July 1945 Kiama, at Torokina, embarked His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester for passage to Mutupina Point in the Solomon Islands. Later in the month she was troop carrying between Torokina and the Treasury Islands. At the close of July, she left New Guinea waters for Brisbane where she arrived on 5 August.

On 24 August 1945 Kiama returned to New Guinea waters and for the next five months was occupied with troop and store carrying, sweeping and general duties. On 29 January 1946 she arrived in Sydney and on paid off into Reserve on 3 April 1946. In her two years and two months of service Kiama steamed 60,882 miles and was underway for 6,369 hours.

In May 1952, without again being brought into seagoing commission, Kiama was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy. She paid off from the Royal New Zealand Navy on 19 August 1976 for disposal.

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.