HMAS Wallaroo

HMAS Wallaroo (J222), named after the town of Wallaroo, South Australia, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[1] Wallaroo was one of only three Bathursts lost during World War II; following a collision with US Liberty ship Henry Gilbert Costin on the night of 11 June 1943.[1][2]

Starboard side view of HMAS Wallaroo. She is painted in a two-tone grey camouflage.
Namesake: Town of Wallaroo, South Australia
Builder: Poole & Steel, Sydney
Laid down: 24 April 1941
Launched: 18 February 1942
Commissioned: 15 July 1942
Motto: "With Might And Main"
Honours and
Fate: Lost following collision on 11 June 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Bathurst-class corvette
Displacement: 650 tons (standard), 1,025 tons (full war load)
Length: 186 ft (57 m)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Draught: 8.5 ft (2.6 m)
Propulsion: triple expansion engine, 2 shafts
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) at 1,750 hp
Complement: 85

Design and construction

In 1938, the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board (ACNB) identified the need for a general purpose 'local defence vessel' capable of both anti-submarine and mine-warfare duties, while easy to construct and operate.[3][4] The vessel was initially envisaged as having a displacement of approximately 500 tons, a speed of at least 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), and a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km; 2,300 mi)[5] The opportunity to build a prototype in the place of a cancelled Bar-class boom defence vessel saw the proposed design increased to a 680-ton vessel, with a 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph) top speed, and a range of 2,850 nautical miles (5,280 km; 3,280 mi), armed with a 4-inch gun, equipped with asdic, and able to fitted with either depth charges or minesweeping equipment depending on the planned operations: although closer in size to a sloop than a local defence vessel, the resulting increased capabilities were accepted due to advantages over British-designed mine warfare and anti-submarine vessels.[3][6] Construction of the prototype HMAS Kangaroo did not go ahead, but the plans were retained.[7] The need for locally built 'all-rounder' vessels at the start of World War II saw the "Australian Minesweepers" (designated as such to hide their anti-submarine capability, but popularly referred to as "corvettes") approved in September 1939, with 60 constructed during the course of the war: 36 (including Wallaroo) ordered by the RAN, 20 ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[3][8][9][10][1]

Wallaroo was laid down by Poole & Steel in Sydney on 24 April 1941.[1] She was launched on 18 February 1942 by Mrs Poole, wife of the shipyard's Chairman of Directors, and commissioned on 15 July 1942.[1]

Operational history

Wallaroo entered service in September 1942, patrolling between Adelaide in South Australia and Fremantle in Western Australia for submarines, as well as performing escort and minesweeping duties around Fremantle.[1]

Just after midnight on 11 June 1943, while out to sea west of Fremantle, the corvette collided with United States Liberty Ship Henry Gilbert Costin.[1] The night was overcast, and the ships were travelling without lights as a precaution against attacks.[1] Three of Wallaroo's crew were killed in the collision, and the corvette sank four hours later with no further casualties while trying to reach Fremantle.[1] The Liberty Ship received minor damage, and made it to port.[1]

The corvette's wartime service was recognised with the battle honour "Pacific 1942".[11][12]


  1. "HMAS Wallaroo (I)". Sea Power Centre Australia. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  2. David Stevens et al., 2001, The Royal Australian Navy, opposite pg 112
  3. Stevens, The Australian Corvettes, p. 1
  4. Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 103
  5. Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–4
  6. Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–5
  7. Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 104
  8. Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 105, 148
  9. Donohue, From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, p. 29
  10. Stevens et al., The Royal Australian Navy, p. 108
  11. "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  12. "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours" (PDF). Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.


  • Donohue, Hector (October 1996). From Empire Defence to the Long Haul: post-war defence policy and its impact on naval force structure planning 1945–1955. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs. No. 1. Canberra: Sea Power Centre. ISBN 0-642-25907-0. ISSN 1327-5658. OCLC 36817771.
  • Stevens, David (2005). A Critical Vulnerability: the impact of the submarine threat on Australia's maritime defense 1915–1954. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs. No. 15. Canberra: Sea Power Centre Australia. ISBN 0-642-29625-1. ISSN 1327-5658. OCLC 62548623.
  • Stevens, David; Sears, Jason; Goldrick, James; Cooper, Alastair; Jones, Peter; Spurling, Kathryn, (2001). Stevens, David (ed.). The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-554116-2. OCLC 50418095.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Journal and news articles
  • Stevens, David (May 2010). "The Australian Corvettes" (PDF). Hindsight (Semaphore). Sea Power Centre – Australia. 2010 (05). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2010.

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