HMAS
Wallaroo

HMAS Wallaroo (I)
Class
Bathurst Class
Type
Australian Minesweeper
Pennant
J222
Builder
Poole and Steel Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
24 April 1941
Launched
18 February 1942
Launched by
Mrs Poole, wife of the Chairman of Directors, Poole and Steel Ltd
Commissioned
15 July 1942
Decommissioned
11 June 1943
Fate
Lost at sea on 11 June 1943
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 2,000
Armament
Guns 1 x 4-inch gun
Other Armament 3 x 20mm Oerlikons
Awards
Battle Honours PACIFIC 1941-45

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

HMAS Wallaroo was laid down at the yard of Poole and Steel, Ltd, Sydney on 24 April 1941. She was launched by Mrs Poole, wife of the Chairman of Directors, of Poole and Steel, Ltd, on 15 July 1942. After fitting out she commissioned at Sydney on 15 July 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Eric S Ross RANR(S).

Group portrait of official group at HMAS Wallaroo's launching. L-R: Mr A. Poole, Rev. Rix who conducted the religious ceremony, Mrs Poole, Junior., Mrs Poole, Senior, Wife of the managing director of the dockyard and the launching lady, Commodore Muirhead-Gould and Mr A. Poole, Senior (AWM 011630).
Group portrait of official group at HMAS Wallaroo's launching. L-R: Mr A Poole, Rev Rix who conducted the religious ceremony, Mrs Poole, Junior, Mrs Poole, Senior, Wife of the managing director of the dockyard and the launching lady, Commodore Muirhead-Gould and Mr A Poole, Senior. (AWM 011630).
Wallaroo was laid down and launched at the dockyard of Poole & Steele Ltd, Sydney.  

Wallaroo had a short and uneventful life. She commenced duty on anti-submarine patrols between Adelaide, Geraldton and Fremantle in September 1942. She was also employed on escort duties and minesweeping in the Fremantle area.


Wallaroo wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint scheme.

The complement of most corvettes normally numbered between 75 and 90 personnel. Here members of Wallaroo's crew can be seen posing prior to the ship's loss in which three of her number were killed.

She met her end in the early hours of 11 June 1943 when she sank as the result of a collision with the United States Liberty Ship Henry Gilbert Costin. The collision occurred shortly after midnight off the Western Australian coast, approximately west of Fremantle. The night was dark and overcast and in accordance with wartime precautions the vessels were steaming without navigation lights burning.


Right: Survivors from Wallaroo following the collision with US Liberty Ship Henry Gibert Costin. (AWM 014997). Left: Petty Officer Victor A Doyle, coxswain, who did excellent work in getting men away from the sinking Wallaroo.

Left: Able Seaman KJ Crowther RAN and Ordinary Signalman HP Lowe RAN, who were on the bridge of Wallaroo when the collision occured. Right: Petty Officer H Rodject RAN and AH Rowland got out emergency torches when Wallaroo collided.

Some four hours after the collision, while endeavouring to reach Fremantle, Wallaroo sank. Henry Gilbert Costin reached port safely with no casualties and only minor damage. Three ratings from Wallaroo lost their lives at the time of the collision.


Group portraits of interstate members of Wallaroo pictured after their return to Melbourne, Victoria, circa 1943. 

Further reading

  • '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.