HMAS Tattoo
S Class
William Beardmore & Co Ltd, Dalmuir, Scotland
Laid Down
21 December 1917
28 December 1918
27 January 1920
19 June 1936
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
Speed 36 knots
Range 2000 miles at 15 knots
Crew 90
Machinery Brown-Curtis geared turbines, 2 screws
Horsepower 27000 shp
  • 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 Tattoo Badge

Tattoo was one of 55 S Class destroyers built for the British Admiralty under the Emergency Shipbuilding Program of World War I. She commissioned into the Royal Navy (RN) as HMS Tattoo in April 1919. She was not long in commission, however, when she and her sister ships, Stalwart, Success, Swordsman, and Tasmania, along with the flotilla leader, Anzac, were gifted to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as replacements for the RAN’s obsolete River Class destroyers.

She recommissioned into the RAN as HMAS Tattoo at Devonport on 27 January 1920 under the command of Lieutenant Commander AM Roberts, DSO, RN. She sailed for Australia on 20 February in company with SuccessSwordsman and Tasmania, and arrived in Sydney on 29 April via Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Suez, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Surabaya and Thursday Island.

Post-war cuts to defence spending saw a number of RAN vessels decommissioned and Tattoo was one of those affected. She decommissioned at Sydney on 6 October 1921 and was placed into reserve. She recommissioned for just six weeks on 12 March 1926 before decommissioning again on 27 April 1926. She was recommissioned again on 13 July 1931 and spent most of the next two years operating in Australian waters except for a visit to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in September 1932.

HMAS Tattoo in Melbourne circa 1920
HMAS Tattoo in Melbourne, circa 1920.
Tattoo at anchor in Farm Cove, Sydney.
Tattoo at anchor in Farm Cove, Sydney.
HMAS Tattoo outboard of HMAS Swordsman
HMAS Tattoo outboard of HMAS Swordsman.

Tattoo decommissioned again on 30 June 1933 recommissioning periodically over the next three years for, gunnery and torpedo firings, re-ranging torpedoes and general training at Flinders Naval Depot in Melbourne. She was paid off on 19 June 1936 and eventually sold for breaking up on 4 June 1937.

HMAS Tattoo alongside the cruiser HMAS Canberra (I) at the Hobart Regatta 1933
HMAS Tattoo alongside the cruiser HMAS Canberra (I) at the Hobart Regatta, 1933.