HMAS Cairns (J183)

HMAS Cairns (J183), named for the city of Cairns, Queensland, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II and one of 20 built for the Admiralty but manned by personnel of and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[1]

HMAS Cairns
HMAS Cairns
NamesakeCity of Cairns, Queensland
BuilderWalkers Limited
Laid down31 March 1941
Launched7 October 1941
Commissioned11 May 1942
Decommissioned17 January 1946
Honours and
FateTransferred to RNLN
NamesakeAmbon Island
Commissioned17 January 1946
FateTransferred to TNI-AL
NamesakeJavanese bull
Commissioned6 April 1950
FateBroken up for scrap in 1968
General characteristics
Class and type Bathurst-class corvette
Displacement650 tons (standard), 1,025 tons (full war load)
Length186 ft (57 m)
Beam31 ft (9.4 m)
Draught8.5 ft (2.6 m)
Propulsiontriple expansion engine, 2 shafts. 2,000 hp
Speed15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) at 1,750 hp
Armament1 × 4 inch Mk XIX gun, 3 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons (later 4), 1 × Bofors 40 mm gun (installed later), Machine guns, Depth charges chutes and throwers

Design and constructionEdit

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.[2][3] 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)[4] 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.[2][5] Construction of the prototype HMAS Kangaroo did not go ahead, but the plans were retained.[6] 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 ordered by the RAN, 20 (including Cairns) ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[2][7][8][9][1]

Cairns was laid down by Walkers Limited at Maryborough, Queensland on 31 March 1941.[1] She was launched on 7 October 1941 by Mrs. R. D. Walker, wife of the Works Manager of Walkers Limited, and commissioned into the RAN on 11 May 1942.[1]

Operational historyEdit

Royal Australian NavyEdit

From entering service until 16 October 1942, Cairns was based in Fremantle and operated as a convoy escort, anti-submarine patroller, and minesweeper.[1] On 16 October, the corvette was reassigned to the British Eastern Fleet and ordered to Kilindini, Kenya, arriving on 14 November.[1]

Cairns remained with the Eastern Fleet until January 1945.[1] Most of this time was spent on patrol or escort duties in the Indian Ocean. The corvette was reassigned to the Mediterranean from June until September 1943.[1] During this time, Cairns was involved in the Allied invasion of Sicily.[1] On 11 February 1944, a convoy Cairns was assigned to was attacked by Japanese submarine RO-110.[1] The corvette was involved in the successful destruction of the submarine, but one convoy ship was torpedoed.[1] Following a refit in Adelaide from May to July 1944, Cairns was redeployed to Colombo, which was her base of operations until January 1945, when the corvette was sent back to Australia.[1]

On arrival in Australian waters, Cairns was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet.[1]

The ship received four battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942–45", "Indian Ocean 1942–45", "Sicily 1943", and "Okinawa 1945".[10][11]

Royal Netherlands NavyEdit

Following the end of World War II, all Admiralty-owned Bathurst class corvettes were disposed of. Cairns was paid off in Brisbane on 17 January 1946.[1] She was immediately recommissioned into the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) and renamed HNLMS Ambon.[1]

Indonesian NavyEdit

Following four years of service with the RNLN, the ship was transferred to the Indonesian Navy on 6 April 1950 and renamed KRI Banteng.[1]


The corvette was broken up for scrap in April 1968.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "HMAS Cairns (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Stevens, The Australian Corvettes, p. 1
  3. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 103
  4. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–4
  5. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–5
  6. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 104
  7. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 105, 148
  8. ^ Donohue, From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, p. 29
  9. ^ Stevens et al., The Royal Australian Navy, p. 108
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "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.
Journal and news articles
  • Stevens, David (May 2010). "The Australian Corvettes" (PDF). Hindsight (Semaphore). Sea Power Centre – Australia. 2010 (5). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2010.

External linksEdit