HMAS
Launceston
(I)

HMAS Launceston (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J179
Builder
Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane
Laid Down
23 December 1940
Launched
30 June 1941
Launched by
Mrs Forgan-Smith, wife of the Premier of Queensland
Commissioned
9 April 1942
Decommissioned
23 March 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Performance
Speed 15 knots
Complement
Crew 85
Propulsion
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 2000
Armament
Guns
  • 1 x 12-pounder gun
  • 1 x Bofors (later 2)
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 2)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Awards
Battle Honours

HMAS Launceston 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 (including Launceston) were built on Admiralty order but manned and commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty six were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

HMAS Launceston was laid down at Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane, Queensland on 23 December 1940. She was launched on 30 June 1941 by Mrs Forgan-Smith, wife of the Premier of Queensland, and was the first RAN warship to carry the name of the city in the north of Tasmania at the junction of the North Esk and South Esk rivers where they became the Tamar River.

Launceston commissioned at Brisbane on 9 April 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Percy G Collins RANR(S).


The crew and ship's mascot of HMAS Launceston.

On completion of trials Launceston was employed on escort duty around the coast of Australia until she left for Colombo in September 1942 to join the Eastern Fleet. She was then engaged in escorting convoys in the Indian Ocean and on 11 February 1944, aided by her sister ship HMAS Ipswich and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna, destroyed the Japanese submarine RO-110 off the east coast of India.

Launceston continued her escorts between Aden and Hormuz, Khor Kuwai, Bombay and Karachi and also between Chittagong and Vizagapatam and Bombay.

 

Before the war, naval vessels made cruises to overseas ports to 'show the flag'. Australian ships on overseas stations have added to this by 'showing the kangaroo'. Most ships have a cut-out kangaroo at their masthead, the sign of a 'wallaby ship"' Alongside the dockyard wall is HMAS Cairns with HMAS Launceston at anchor in Bombay Harbour, India (Showing the Kanagroo by Frant Norton, AWM ART21799).
HMAS Launceston was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers built for service during World War II
HMAS Launceston was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers built for service during World War II.

Returning to Fremantle for refit in September 1944, Launceston remained in the Fremantle area on anti-submarine patrols until February 1945 when she proceeded to Manus, escorting en route. She then participated in the operation for the capture of Okinawa (March-May 1945). After the end of hostilities she was based at Hong Kong for minesweeping and patrol duties.

Launceston arrived at Brisbane on 29 October 1945 and then paid official visits to the town of Launceston from 16 to 25 December, and Hobart on 28 December where she was the flagship for the Hobart Regatta, before proceeding to Sydney, where she arrived on 11 January 1946.


HMAS Launceston steamed an impressive 136,064 miles during her wartime commission.

After a refit at Sydney, Launceston paid off about mid March 1946, having steamed 136,064 miles. She recommissioned in the Royal Navy and on 21 May 1946, as HMS Launceston, sailed for Colombo in company with her sister ships Gawler and Pirie. All were destined for transfer to the Turkish Navy.

HMAS Launceston as she appeared after being equipped with radar which is visible at her masthead.
Members of HMAS Launceston's crew.
Members of HMAS Launceston's crew.

As a unit of the Turkish Navy, Launceston originally bore the name Ayancik and was later renamed Hamit Naci. 'Jane's Fighting Ships' reported that she was withdrawn from service in 1965.

Further reading

  • 'Notable Service to the Empire: Australian Corvettes and the British Pacific Fleet, 1944-45' by Hugh Campbell. Published by Naval Historical Society of Australia, Inc. 1995.
  • 'The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy' by Iris Nesdale - published by the author, October, 1982.
  • 'Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men' by Frank B Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.
  • 'The Australian Centenary History of Defence Volume III, The Royal Australian Navy', edited by David Stevens, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2001.