HMAS
Swordsman

HMAS Swordsman
Class
S
Type
Destroyer
Pennant
H11 & F3A
Builder
Scott’s Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd, Greenock, Scotland
Launched
28 December 1918
Commissioned
27 January 1920
Decommissioned
21 December 1929
Fate
Sold on 4 June 1937 and broken up
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 1075 tons
Length 276 feet
Beam 26 feet 9 inches
Draught 10 feet 10 inches
Performance
Speed 36 knots
Range 2000 miles at 15 knots
Complement
Crew 90
Propulsion
Machinery Brown-Curtis geared turbines, 2 screws
Horsepower 27000 shp
Armament
Guns
  • 3 x 4-inch guns
  • 1 x 2-pounder pom-pom
  • 1 x Maxim machine gun
  • 4 x Lewis machine guns
Torpedoes 4 x 21-inch torpedo tubes in 2 twin deck mountings
Other Armament
  • 2 x depth-charge throwers
  • 4 x depth-charge chutes
HMAS Swordsman Badge

 

Swordsman was one of 55 'S' class destroyers built for the British Admiralty under the Emergency Shipbuilding Program of World War I. She was completed in 1919 and shortly afterwards was gifted to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), along with her sister ships, Stalwart, Success, Tasmania and Tattoo, and the flotilla leader, Anzac, as replacements for the RAN’s obsolete River class destroyers.

HMAS Swordsman's ship's bell now on display at the Naval Heritage Centre in Sydney.
HMAS Swordsman's ship's bell now on display at the Naval Heritage Centre in Sydney.

She commissioned into the RAN as HMAS Swordsman at Devonport, England on 27 January 1920 under the command of Lieutenant Commander CE Hughes-White, DSC, RN. She sailed for Australia on 20 February in company with Success, Tasmania and Tattoo, and arrived in Sydney on 29 April via Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Suez, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Surabaya and Thursday Island.

In September 1920 Swordsman assisted in the search for the missing schooner, SS Amelia J, which disappeared between Newcastle and Hobart in August. The schooner was last seen off Jervis Bay on 5 September. The search was later extended to include the missing barquentine, SS Southern Cross (with a crew of ten), which had also disappeared after departing Williamstown for Hobart on 10 September. The search was further extended on 23 September when an Australian Air Corps (the forerunner of the RAAF) De Havilland 9A biplane, ironically also involved in the search for the two missing vessels vanished. No trace of Amelia J and her crew of twelve was ever found, while wreckage from Southern Cross was later found on King Island. The aircraft, and its two crew members, also disappeared with trace.

Two of Swordsman's 21-inch torpedos loaded in their tubes.
Two of Swordsman's 21-inch torpedos loaded in their tubes.

Post-war cuts to defence spending saw a number of RAN vessels decommissioned and Swordsman was one of those affected. She decommissioned at Sydney on 6 September 1922 and placed into reserve. She recommissioned as the destroyer flotilla leader on 4 August 1926 and subsequently served the remainder of her seagoing career in eastern Australian waters. Swordsman decommissioned again on 21 December 1929 and was once more placed into reserve. She was eventually sold for breaking up on 4 June 1937.

HMAS Swordsman shortly after she arrived in Australia circa May 1920
HMAS Swordsman shortly after she arrived in Australia circa May 1920.
HMAS Swordsman. (From the collection of the State Library of Victoria)
HMAS Swordsman. (From the collection of the State Library of Victoria)
Swordsman at sea c.1929
Swordsman at sea, circa 1929.
HMAS Swordsman's mascot, "Our Jack"
HMAS Swordsman's mascot, "Our Jack".