HMAS Goorangai was a 223-ton auxiliary minesweeper of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built in 1919 for the Government of New South Wales, then sold in 1926 to the fishing company Cam & Sons. The trawler was requisitioned for military service following the outbreak of World War II, converted into a minesweeper, and assigned to Melbourne. She was sunk in an accidental collision with MV Duntroon in 1940, becoming the RAN's first loss of World War II, and the first RAN surface ship to be lost in wartime.
Goorangai coming in to berth
|Builder:||Government Dockyard, Newcastle|
|Fate:||Requisition for naval service, 1939|
|Acquired:||8 August 1939|
|Commissioned:||9 September 1939|
|Fate:||Sunk following collision in 1940|
|Notes:||Pennant number: GR|
|Type:||Auxiliary minesweeper (former trawler)|
|Length:||117 feet (36 m)|
|Beam:||22 feet 1 inch (6.73 m)|
|Draught:||13 feet 8 inches (4.17 m)|
|Speed:||9.5 knots (17.6 km/h; 10.9 mph)|
|Complement:||3 officers, 21 sailors|
Goorangai was built by the Government Dockyard, Newcastle in 1919, for use by the Government of New South Wales. The vessel had a tonnage rating of 223 tonnes, was 117 feet (36 m) long, had a beam of 22 feet 1 inch (6.73 m), and a draught of 13 feet 8 inches (4.17 m). Top speed was 9.5 knots (17.6 km/h; 10.9 mph).
At the start of World War II, Goorangai was requisitioned for military service on 8 September 1939; one of eight vessels requisitioned from Cam & Sons during the war. The vessel underwent modification, and was fitted with minesweeping gear, a QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun, and depth charges. After conversion into an auxiliary minesweeper, Goorangai was commissioned into the RAN on 9 September 1939, and assigned the pennant number GR. She was operated by Royal Australian Navy Reserve personnel: 21 sailors and 3 officers. Goorangai was assigned to Minesweeping Group 54, which was based in Melbourne and tasked with keeping Bass Strait and surrounding waters clear of mines.
Following the loss of SS Cambridge and MS City of Rayville in November 1940 to sea mines laid off Wilsons Promontory and Cape Otway, Goorangai and two other auxiliary minesweepers, HMA Ships Orara and Durraween, were sent to clear to Bass Strait to sweep for mines.
Collision and loss
On the night of 20 November, Goorangai was crossing the mouth of Port Phillip Bay to anchor at Portsea for the night. The minesweeper was sailing under 'brownout' conditions, with minimal lighting. At 20:37, MV Duntroon, en route to Sydney, emerged from Port Phillip Bay and cut Goorangai in two. The small auxiliary sank within a minute, taking all 24 personnel aboard with her. Only six bodies were recovered, one of which couldn't be identified. Goorangai and her ship's company were the RAN's first loss in World War II, and the first RAN surface ship ever to be sunk while in service.
News of the accident quickly spread in Melbourne, as the media outlets decided that as the loss of life was due to an accident and not military action, censorship restrictions did not reply. The Australian Commonwealth Naval Board disagreed, and the War Cabinet later issued supplementary instructions preventing the publishing of any loss of Australian personnel or equipment without approval. Because the wreck was inside the shipping zone and resting in less than 15 metres (49 ft) of water, it was destroyed by explosives in January 1941. The Court of Marine Inquiry initially found both ships to be at fault for the collision, but later exonerated the captain of Duntroon as poor positioning of lights aboard the minesweeper, which led him to believe that the minesweeper was on a parallel course, was identified as the main cause of the accident.
A memorial cairn was erected at Queenscliff in 1981. The ship was recognised under the Historic Ship Wrecks Act on 16 November 1995. In 2004, the Royal Australian Naval Professional Studies Program initiated a series of occasional papers focusing on subjects related to the Naval Reserve: the series was named Goorangai, after the ship.
- "HMAS Goorangai". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "Goorangai" (PDF). Goorangai. Royal Australian Naval Professional Studies Program. 1 (1). November 2004. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "HMAS Goorangai Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number S294". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria.
- Gill, G. Hermon (1957). Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. p. 275.
- Goldrick, James (2001). "World War II: The war against Germany and Italy". In Stevens, David (ed.). The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. pp. 116–7. ISBN 0-19-555542-2. OCLC 50418095.
- "HMAS Goorangai (1940)". seafarersmemorial.org.au. Tasmanian Seafarers' Memorial. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Goorangai Dive Site". The Scuba Doctor.