HMAS Townsville (I)
Bathurst Class
Australian Minesweeper
Evans Deakin & Co Ltd, Brisbane
Laid Down
16 November 1940
13 May 1941
Launched by
Mrs McNeil, wife of the Third Naval Member
19 December 1941
5 August 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inhes
Speed 15 knots
Crew 85
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 1,750
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • 1 x Bofors
  • Machine Guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Battle Honours

HMAS Townsville 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 Townsville) were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

Townsville commissioned at Brisbane on 19 December 1941 under the command of Lieutenant Commander John Abbott RAN (Emergency).

Townsville began her operational career in February 1942 escorting Darwin to Thursday Island convoys. She was in harbour when the first and most destructive of more than fifty air raids on Darwin took place on 19 February 1942. Operations under the Darwin command continued until 28 July 1942 when Townsville proceeded for Sydney to take up escort duties on the east coast of Australia. It was an anxious period for those charged with the protection of coastal shipping. Six groups had already fallen victim to Japanese submarines operating in Australian waters.

On 13 August 1942 Townsville assumed responsibility for her first east coast convoy, bound from Sydney for Melbourne. It was the first of many she was to shepherd through dangerous waters on a two year tour of duty on the Australian coast. It included the period of the maximum Japanese effort against the Allied supply line. Twelve ships were sunk off the Australian coast with the loss of more than 150 merchant seamen. Only one ship, the 4,800 ton Iron Knight, was lost in a convoy under Townsville's protection.

On 31 May 1944 Townsville departed Brisbane to begin a period of escort and patrol duties in New Guinea waters. Five months were spent in operations from Milne Bay to Morotai, including Madang, Hollandia, Langemak, Wakde, Noemfoor and Manus.

Returning to the mainland in November 1944, Townsville carried out a series of minesweeping operations before returning to Milne Bay on the last day of the month. She remained in New Guinea waters operating on patrol in mainly the Morotai / Biak area until June 1945, when she proceeded to Melbourne for refitting. The refit was in progress when hostilities ended.

In the post war period Townsville operated as a unit of the 20th Minesweeping Flotilla in the New Britain area and in Australian home waters. She paid off into Reserve at Fremantle on 5 August 1946. In more than four and a half years of seagoing service Townsville steamed 155,450 miles. Townsville was sold on 8 August 1956 to the Hong Kong Delta Shipping Co, Hong Kong, for breaking up.

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 - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.