HMAS
Larrakia
(I)

HMAS Larrakia (I)
Class
Patrol Vessel
Type
Air-Sea Rescue Launch
Pennant
81
Builder
Scott-Paine and Co., Hythe England
Commissioned
8 December 1941
Decommissioned
16 February 1944
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 12 tons
Length 45 feet
Beam 10 feet
Draught 3 feet 3 inches
Performance
Speed
  • 10 knots (economical)
  • 25 knots (maximum)
Complement
Crew 10
Propulsion
Machinery 3 x 6 cyl 100 HP Meadowes Motors
Armament
Guns 1 x .303 Vickers or Lewis Machine Gun
Awards
Battle Honours DARWIN 1942–43

Larrakia was built for the Commonwealth Government in May 1936 to serve as an air-sea rescue vessel in Northern Territory waters. Her design was based on a RAF air-sea rescue launch. As a consequence of concerns about the activities of foreign fishing vessels in these waters, Civil Aviation agreed that she be given the additional role of patrol vessel.

 

 

HMAS Larrakia shortly after arriving in Darwin following her voyage from England, May 1936

Larrakia shortly after arriving in Darwin following her voyage from England, May 1936

During Larrakia's period of service as a patrol boat, she was commanded by CAPT C.T.G. Haultain, RAN who described his first impression of the vessel: "Photographs I had seen of the boat had not brought out her sinister looks; a jet black hull, high out of the water, squat upperworks ending aft in the rise of the Control cabin gave her a smooth compact line. The 'hard chine' construction of the hull was noticeable in the fin-like length which ran from the raked stem to the flat bottomed stern; to a sailor's eye she had an unfamiliar look."

Prior to the Second World War Larrakia conducted fisheries and security patrols along the north coast and was responsible for the apprehension of a number of illegal pearling and fishing vessels. One of these arrests resulted in a controversial case before the Supreme Court in Darwin.

HMAS Larrakia being utilised as an Examination Vessel in Darwin prior to her commissioning in 1939.
HMAS Larrakia being utilised as an Examination Vessel in Darwin in 1939 prior to her commissioning in 1941.

With the outbreak of war in 1939 Larrakia was utilised by the Royal Australian Navy as an Examination Vessel in Darwin. She was not commissioned for this function. As defence preparations in and around Darwin increased Larrakia was used to provide transport and support to the various Army detachments surveying and preparing defence sites around Darwin. On 8 December 1941 she was formally requisitioned and commissioned into the RAN. She served as a patrol vessel and air-sea rescue launch. Larrakia was based in Darwin for the war and was present during the first and subsequent air raids.

Larrakia was paid off on 16 February 1944. As she was no longer required by the Northern Territory administration the vessel was subsequently sold, on 3 April 1946, to a Mr Cochron.

HMAS Larrakia decommissioned on 16 February 1944 and was put on blocks pending a private sale in 1946.
HMAS Larrakia decommissioned on 16 February 1944 and was put on blocks pending a private sale in 1946.

The name Larrakia derives from the language group name for the Aboriginal people of Darwin. Traditionally Larrakia lands included the Cox Peninsula, most of Gunn Point and much of rural Darwin. Darwin Harbour is also recognised as being within Larrakia country. Larrakia people are often referred to as 'saltwater people'. The association between the Larrakia people and the Darwin area is recognised through the naming of the suburb of Larrakeyah.