HMAS
Mildura

HMAS Mildura (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J207
Builder
Mort's Dock & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
23 September 1940
Launched
15 March 1941
Launched by
Mrs Durnford, wife of the Second Naval Member
Commissioned
23 July 1941
Decommissioned
11 September 1953
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 1,750
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 Mildura 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 Mildura) were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

Mildura commissioned at Sydney on 23 July 1941 under the command of Lieutenant George E.V.G. Owen RANR(S).

The ship joined the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla on 29 August 1941 and operated as a unit of the Flotilla until it was disbanded late in 1941. Until August 1942 Mildura was engaged in minesweeping, escort duties and anti-submarine patrols in Australian and South Pacific waters.

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

From September 1942 to December 1943 she operated as one of the escort vessels protecting the movement of Australian east coast convoys. During this period eleven merchant ships were sunk by Japanese submarine off the east coast with a loss of 407 lives.

In January 1943 Mildura assisted in the salvage and tow to Sydney of the disabled American vessel SS Peter Burnett which had been torpedoed some 530 miles east of Sydney. Several attacks were made on convoys escorted by Mildura. The Australian vessel SS Iron Knight was torpedoed without warning and sank in two minutes with the loss of 37 lives on 8 February 1943.

From January to July 1944, Mildura served on anti-submarine patrol duty in Queensland waters and as escort to convoys proceeding from Townsville to New Guinea. In August 1944 she was transferred to the operational control of the Naval Officer-in-Charge, Fremantle, arriving at that port on 30 August. Until the end of the year she joined with other ships to provide escort and anti-submarine patrols, mainly in the approaches to Fremantle.

Following a refit at Fremantle, Mildura transferred to the control of the Naval Officer-in-Charge, New Guinea, on 14 March 1945. Proceeding via Darwin she arrived at Port Moresby on 28 March 1945, proceeding thence to Morotai. At Morotai she operated as a stationery patrol vessel interspersed with escort duty to Biak.

On 22 June 1945 she proceeded independently to Tarakan, Borneo, where she carried out dusk to dawn harbour approach patrols, returning to Morotai on 1 July. En route a party was landed on Makelhi Island to search for the crew of a wrecked Catalina flying boat sighted on the beach. Six natives who emerged from the bush reported the rescue of the airman by another aircraft. Anxious to leave the area to escape the ‘Japan man's' attentions, they were given passage to Morotai. The remainder of July was spent at Morotai interspersed with escort duty between Zamboanga and Borneo.

Following two week of patrols and guardship service at Balikpapan, Mildura proceeded to Subic Bay in the Philippines where she joined seven of her sister ships to form a Royal Australian Navy Minesweeping Flotilla. The group arrived at Hong Kong on 30 August 1945.

Following a period of boiler cleaning, patrolling, rounding up enemy small craft and taking over the Hong Kong brewery from the Japanese, Mildura was allocated as a unit of the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla in mid September 1945. Minesweeping operations with the Flotilla in Chinese waters continued until 17 October 1945. On 20 October, at Hong Kong, she proceeded ‘on the first stage of the long and keenly awaited return to Australia'. She reached Sydney on 19 November 1945 after an absence of two years and seven days.

HMAS Mildura wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint
HMAS Mildura wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint

Following a refit Mildura resumed service in February 1946 as a unit of the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla. Operations with the Flotilla clearing minefields in Australian, New Guinea and Solomon Islands waters kept her fully occupied until October 1947. On 16 January 1948 she reached Fremantle, where she paid off on 21 May 1948.

Mildura recommissioned at Fremantle on 20 February 1951 for service as a training ship, under the command of LEUT John Ferguson DSC RAN. In this capacity she served in Western Australian waters, training National Service Trainees, until 1953, after which she proceeded to Melbourne.

Mildura paid off at Melbourne on 11 September 1953, having steamed 208,132 miles since first commissioning in July 1941. On 8 December 1954 the tug HMAS Sprightly departed Melbourne with Mildura in tow. The vessels arrived at Brisbane on 15 December. At Brisbane Mildura served as an immobilised reserve training ship.

Mildura was sold for scrap on 8 September 1965 to Brisbane Non-Ferrous Pty Ltd.

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 - -ublished by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.