HMAS Gawler (J188)

HMAS Gawler (J188/B241/A115), named for the town of Gawler, 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). The ship was laid down by BHP at its Whyalla shipyard in early 1941, launched later that year, and commissioned in 1942.

HMAS Gawler
HMAS Gawler
NamesakeTown of Gawler
BuilderBHP, Whyalla
Laid down24 January 1941
Launched4 October 1941
Commissioned14 August 1942
Decommissioned5 April 1946
Motto"Serve With Pride"
Honours and
FateTransferred to Turkish Navy
BadgeHMAS gawler crest.png
Acquired5 April 1946
FateWithdrawn from service
General characteristics during RAN service
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

After a short assignment to Fremantle as an anti-submarine patrol ship, Gawler was assigned to the British Eastern Fleet as a convoy escort. In April 1943, she was sent to the Mediterranean Sea for minesweeping duties. The corvette participated in the Allied invasion of Sicily, rescued survivors from the torpedoed troopship Yoma, and on one occasion escorted a convoy in the Atlantic. In October, Gawler rejoined the Eastern Fleet and resumed Indian Ocean convoy escort duties. After a refit at the start of 1945, Gawler joined the British Pacific Fleet. At the war's end, the corvette was tasked with mine-clearing and anti=piracy operations around Hong Kong, then sent to the Molucca Islands to inspect former Japanese facilities.

Gawler was decommissioned from the RAN in April 1946. The Admiralty transferred the ship to the Turkish Navy, where she was recommissioned as TCG Ayvalik. The corvette remained in Turkish service until 1963.

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

Gawler was laid down by the BHP at its Whyalla shipyard on 24 January 1941.[9] She was launched on 4 October 1941 by the wife of Sir Winston Dugan, then Governor of Victoria, and commissioned into the RAN on 14 August 1942.[9] The ship was originally to be named Gambier, for the city of Mount Gambier.[10]

Operational historyEdit

RAN serviceEdit

Upon entering service in September 1942, Gawler was briefly based at Fremantle as an anti-submarine patrol vessel before being assigned to the British Eastern Fleet and ordered to sail to Colombo.[9] The corvette served in the Indian Ocean as a convoy escort between January and April 1943.[9]

Following this, Gawler and three sister ships were formed into as the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla and sent to the Mediterranean Sea to serve as minesweepers and convoy escorts.[9] On 17 June 1943 when the British troopship Yoma was sunk off the coast of Libya, Gawler and her sister ship HMAS Lismore were among the ships that rescued 1,477 survivors.[11]

In July, Gawler was involved in the Allied invasion of Sicily, and in August the corvette sailed into the Atlantic to meet a Mediterranean-bound convoy.[9] Gawler rejoined the Eastern Fleet in October 1943, and resumed escort duties until January 1945, with the exception of a refit in Durban during January and February 1944.[9]

After leaving the Eastern Fleet, Gawler underwent a four-month refit in Adelaide, before joining the British Pacific Fleet at Manus Island in April 1945.[9] She remained with the Pacific Fleet until after the end of World War II; operating in Hong Kong waters during September with mine-warfare and anti-piracy duties, before sailing to the Molucca Islands and spending the rest of 1945 providing surveillance of former Japanese positions in the area.[9]

Gawler returned to Australian waters in February 1946, and was decommissioned in Sydney on 5 April 1946.[9] The corvette received three battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942", "Indian Ocean 1942–45", and "Sicily 1943".[12][13]

Turkish Navy serviceEdit

Prior to decommissioning, Gawler was marked for transfer to the Turkish Navy.[9] Upon decommissioning, Gawler was immediately recommissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Gawler.[9] On 21 May 1946, Gawler, with sister ships Launceston and Pirie, sailed for Colombo, where they were decommissioned from the Royal Navy and commissioned into the Turkish Navy.[9] Gawler was renamed TCG Ayvalik.[9]

The corvette was withdrawn from service in 1963.[9][14] The name was passed on to sister corvette TCG Antalya (the former Geraldton).[9]


  1. ^ a b c Stevens, The Australian Corvettes, p. 1
  2. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 103
  3. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–4
  4. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 103–5
  5. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, p. 104
  6. ^ Stevens, A Critical Vulnerability, pp. 105, 148
  7. ^ Donohue, From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, p. 29
  8. ^ Stevens et al., The Royal Australian Navy, p. 108
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "HMAS Gawler (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  10. ^ Straczek, Joe (Winter 2003). "What's in a name: a chronological list – part 2". Australian Sea Heritage. Australian Heritage Fleet (75): 13. ISSN 0813-0523.
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2013). "Yoma". Ships hit by U-boats. Guðmundur Helgason. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ Gillett, Ross (1977). Warships of Australia. Rigby. p. 204. ISBN 0 7270 0472 7.


  • 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: 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.