HMAS
Kuttabul

Type
Depot Ship
Role Accommodation Ship
Nickname
Kutts
Builder
Walsh Island Shipyard, Newcastle, NSW
Commissioned
26 February 1941
Decommissioned
1 June 1942
Fate
Sunk
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 447 tons
Length 182 feet 6 inches
Beam 36 feet 9 inches

The ferry Kuttabul was built for Sydney Ferries Ltd at the Walsh Island Shipyard in Newcastle, NSW, in 1922. On entering service, she ran the Circular Quay-Milsons Point run on Sydney Harbour.

The ferry Kuttabul under construction at Newcastle, NSW 1922
The ferry Kuttabul under construction at Newcastle, NSW, 1922.
Kuttabul was a familiar sight on Sydney harbour for many years as she ferried commuters between Circular Quay and Milsons Point.
Kuttabul was a familiar sight on Sydney Harbour for many years as she ferried commuters between Circular Quay and Milsons Point.

On 7 November 1940 Kuttabul was requestioned by the Royal Australian Navy as a depot ship to the naval base at Garden Island, at that time known as HMAS Penguin. She later commissioned as HMAS Kuttabul on 26 February 1941 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Alan Lewis, RAN. In her role as a depot ship Kuttabul was used primarily as an accommodation ship for ratings posted to Penguin. She soon became a familiar sight moored against the sea wall along the east side of Garden Island.

On the night of 31 May-1 June 1942 three Japanese midget submarines launched an attack on Sydney Harbour. At around 12:30am on 1 June, the midget submarine M-24, crewed by Sub Lieutenant Katsuhisa Ban and Petty Officer Mamoru Ashibe, fired one of its torpedos at the American heavy cruiser, USS Chicago, but missed its intended target. The torpedo struck the seabed underneath Kuttabul sinking the vessel with the loss of 21 lives.

Left: Kuttabul lying on the sea bed at her mooring following the torpedo attack. Right: Workers sift through the debris on Kuttabul's upper-deck.
Left: Kuttabul lying on the sea bed at her mooring following the torpedo attack. Right: Workers sift through the debris on Kuttabul's upper deck.

It took several days to recover and account for the 21 ratings that were killed in Kuttabul. On 3 June 1942 Rear Admiral GC Muirhead-Gould, DSC, Flag Officer-in-Charge Sydney and over 200 Navy personnel attended a burial service conducted with naval honours for those killed in Kuttabul. On 1 January 1943, the naval depot at Garden Island was commissioned as HMAS Kuttabul to further perpetuate the memory of the 21 men killed during the attack. The name Penguin was subsequently passed on to the Balmoral Naval Depot.

Kuttabul's distinctive stern section was later raised from the seabed during the salvage operation
Kuttabul's distinctive stern section was later raised from the seabed during the salvage operation.

HMAS Kuttabul Roll of Honour

Stoker II John Samuel Asher
Able Seaman Leslie William Bland
Stoker William Richard Boundy
Leading Stoker Sydney William Butcher
Stoker II Leslie Joseph Denison
Stoker Arthur William Francis
Stoker John Edward Gannon
Stoker Jack Albert Gardiner
Stoker Frederick Arthur Glanford
Engine Room Artificer IV Walter George Gordon
Petty Officer Leonard Walter Howroyd
Stoker II Lester Richard Jamieson
Stoker II Kenneth Francis Killeen
Able Seaman Frank Kirby, RN
Stoker Jack Edmund Numan
Stoker II Norman Leslie Robson
Able Seaman Arthur James Smith
Stoker II Herbert Arthur Smith
Ordinary Seaman David Trist, RN
Ordinary Seaman Raymond Owen Venning
Stoker Thomas Joseph Watson

 

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