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HMAS Rockhampton (J203/M203), named for the city of Rockhampton, Queensland, 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]

HMAS Rockhampton in Sydney Harbour during 1944
HMAS Rockhampton in Sydney Harbour during 1944
Namesake: City of Rockhampton, Queensland
Builder: Walkers Limited in Maryborough, Queensland
Laid down: 6 November 1940
Launched: 26 June 1941
Commissioned: 21 January 1942
Decommissioned: 5 August 1946
Honours and
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1961, scrapped in 1962
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 1.5 in (9.487 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 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 (including Rockhampton) ordered by the RAN, 20 ordered by the British Admiralty but manned and commissioned as RAN vessels, and 4 for the Royal Indian Navy.[2][7][8][9][1]

Rockhampton had a slightly wider beam than other Bathurst class corvettes; 1.5 inches (38 mm) greater.[1]

Rockhampton was laid down by Walkers Limited at Maryborough, Queensland on 6 November 1940, launched on 26 June 1941, and commissioned into the RAN on 21 January 1942.[1]

Operational historyEdit

Rockhampton began her career as a convoy escort along the east coast of Australia.[1] Following a series of Japanese submarine attacks along the east coast of Australia, a convoy system was established.[1] Rockhampton and USS Selfridge escorted the first Sydney to Brisbane convoy.[1] The corvette remained in this role until January 1944, when she began escorting convoys to and from New Guinea.[1] She underwent refit in Sydney over April and May 1944, before returning to escort duties in New Guinea waters.[1] Rockhampton operated in both Australian and New Guinea waters up until the end of World War II.[1]

Following the end of the war, Rockhampton was involved in the rescue of Dutch and Indonesian prisoners-of-war and the occupation of Ambon.[1] On 8 October 1945, the corvette carried the Sultan of Ternate on his return home.[1] Rockhampton returned to Sydney in November 1945, where she was assigned to minesweeping duties off the east coast of Australia.[1] She later participated in survey duties off the coast of South Australia, before returning to Sydney on 29 April 1946.[1]

The corvette received two battle honours for her wartime service: "Pacific 1942–45" and "New Guinea 1944".[10][11]


Rockhampton paid off to reserve on 5 August 1946, and was sold to Kino Shito (Australia) Pty Ltd for scrap on 6 January 1961.[1] She departed Australia for Japan under tow by the tug Benton Maru in 1962.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "HMAS Rockhampton". Sea Power Centre Australia. Retrieved 15 September 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.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.