Ton Class
Phillip and Co, Dartmouth
28 February 1955
30 August 1962
31 May 1973
Dimensions & Displacement
  • 375 tons std
  • 480 tons full load
Length 46.6 metres (152 ft)
Beam 8.8 metres (29 ft)
Draught 2.5 metres (8 ft)
Speed 15 knots
Crew 38
Machinery 2 Napier Deltic Diesels
Horsepower 3,000
Guns 1 single 40/60 Bofors
Battle Honours MALAYSIA 1964-66

HMAS Teal was one of six ex-Royal Navy Ton Class minesweepers acquired by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Her sister ships were HMA Ships Hawk, Gull, Snipe, Ibis and Curlew. The six Ton Class minesweepers formed the 16th Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Squadron and provided the RAN with the means to gain and maintain proficiency in mine countermeasures.

Teal was first accepted into service with the Royal Navy on 20 July 1956 as HMS Jackton. She went immediately to Agamemnon Shipyard for preservation for the Reserve Fleet, at Hythe, where she remained until purchased by the RAN in 1961. She was commissioned as HMAS Teal on 30 August 1962, under the command of Lieutenant Commander JG Stacey, RAN, and arrived in Sydney with her sister ships on 7 December 1962.

HMAS Teal before her voyage to Australia. (Brian Simpson collection)

On 4 February 1963, Teal commenced her service with the RAN, proceeding to the Broken Bay area for manoeuvres and mine countermeasures exercises with Gull and Hawk, however, Teal’s participation was curtailed several times due to defects.

On 20 September 1963, Teal and her sister ships sailed for their first overseas deployment as part of Operation GARDENING, a minesweeping task to clear a channel into Tonolei Harbour in Bougainville, where US aircraft had dropped a large number of magnetic mines in 1943. This was the RAN's biggest minesweeping operation for 16 years. The deployment also included overseas port visits to Singapore and Port Moresby, and the conduct of hydrographic surveys in the Solomon Sea and Chestnut Bay (125 miles south east of Port Moresby). The Squadron returned to Sydney that December.

Left: HMAS Teal was commissioned on 30 August 1962, before departing the United Kingdom for Australia. Right: HMAS Teal arrived in Sydney on 7 December 1962.

Teal saw in the New Year berthed alongside Garden Island Dockyard for maintenance following which she recommenced a routine exercise programme on the Australian east coast. Exercises were interrupted briefly from 11-13 February 1964, while she participated in the search for survivors of the Melbourne/Voyager disaster. On 18 April 1964, Teal participated in a ceremony to commemorate the 194th Anniversary of Captain James Cook’s landing in Botany Bay following which she began a refit to prepare her for her forthcoming Far East deployment as part of Australia’s contribution to Commonwealth support for Malaysia during the Indonesian Confrontation.

Teal departed Australia for Singapore on 17 August 1964 in company with Ibis to relieve Gull and Hawk on patrol duties. The deployment proved to be an eventful one for Teal. On 6 December 1964 she aimed light machine-gun fire across the bow of an unlit vessel attempting to avoid interception. The vessel eventually stopped and three Indonesian soldiers were arrested. On 13 December 1964, she encountered two sampans a mile off Raffles Light near Singapore. The two vessels separated and one escaped into Indonesian waters; the other opened fire upon Teal. Teal's return fire killed three of the seven crewmen aboard the sampan and the vessel surrendered. Teal's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Keith Murray, RAN, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 30 November 1965 for his coolness and judgement during these incidents.

On 23 February 1965 she arrested a boatload of nine uniformed and heavily armed Indonesians, all carrying the insignia of the Malay National Army. The patrol regime developed by Teal became the standard operating procedure for the RAN during the Confrontation period.

HMAS Teal (foreground) in company with her sister ships, HMA Ships Snipe, Curlew and Hawk.
HMAS Teal (foreground) in company with her sister ships, HMA Ships Snipe, Curlew and Hawk.

During this deployment, the Naval Board decided that, rather than ships wasting time and resources returning to Australia between deployments, the ships would remain on station and crew changes and any necessary maintenance would occur at one of the Royal Navy bases in Singapore or Hong Kong. Teal and Ibis departed Singapore on 16 January 1966 and arrived back in Sydney on 8 February after an absence of some 17 months. Teal immediately entered a well-earned refit until that May. From June 1966, Teal commenced a busy exercise and maintenance programme on the Australian coast, deploying to Northern Australia for 8 months in late October 1966 until early May 1967. On 11 October 1967, Teal, in company with Ibis, left Sydney to circumnavigate the country conducting surveys and mine countermeasures exercises. The two ships returned to Sydney on 21 December becoming the first Ton Class ships to circumnavigate Australia.

Both Teal and Ibis were paid off into Operational Reserve on 15 January 1968, due to manpower constraints. Nine months later, however, on 23 September 1968, Teal was briefly recommissioned under the command of Lieutenant Commander RS Barrell, RAN, participating in Exercise SHADOW prior to once again being placed in Operational Reserve on 14 October 1968.

On 7 November 1969, Teal was recommissioned under the command of Lieutenant Commander HE Jones, RAN. On 30 April 1970, Teal, in company with Curlew and Ibis, departed Sydney for South East Asia. During this deployment she participated in Exercises CRACKSHOT and BERSATU PADU, with more than 30 ships of the Australian, British, Malaysian and New Zealand Navies. Teal arrived back in Sydney on 27 July.

Due to increasing maintenance costs and personnel shortages, Teal was once again decommissioned on 14 August 1970. Some sixteen months later, however, on 7 January 1972, Teal recommissioned under the command of Lieutenant Commander RJ Burns, RAN.

On 26 June 1972, Teal departed Australia for a 4½ month Far East deployment in company with Curlew and Snipe during which they conducted general survey duties, cleared a WWII minefield in the vicinity of Port Moresby and participated in the SEATO exercise SEA SCORPION. The three ships returned to Australia on 10 November and Teal saw out the year in a leave and maintenance period.

Teal recommenced a normal training programme in 1973 on the Australian east coast prior to her final decommissioning into the Operational Reserve on 31 May 1973. During her 7½ years of active service in the RAN, she had steamed 182,083 nautical miles. Teal remained in the Reserve Fleet for several years before finally being sold in October 1977.