HMAS Encounter

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Portside view HMAS Encounter
Career (United Kingdom (RN)) RN ensign
Builder: HM Dockyard Devonport
Laid down: 28 January 1901
Launched: 18 June 1902
Completed: 21 November 1905
Fate: Transferred to the RAN
Career (Australia (RAN)) RAN ensign
Acquired: 1912
Commissioned: 1 July 1912, permanently transferred 5th December 1919
Decommissioned: 15 August 1929
Motto: "Show the Flag"
Fate: Renamed Penguin May 1923 as a submarine depot ship, scuttled off Sydney Heads 14 September 1932. Now used as dive wreck
General characteristics
Class and type: Challenger class cruiser
Displacement: 5,880 tons
Length: 376 ft (115 m)
Beam: 56 ft (17 m)
Draught: 20 ft 8 in (6.30 m)
Propulsion: 12,500 horsepower
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)

11 × BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mk VII guns
9 x 12 pounder guns
8 x 3 pounder guns

2 × 18-inch (450-mm) torpedo tubes

HMAS Encounter was a second-class protected cruiser of the Challenger class of the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Construction and acquisition

Encounter was laid down for the RN by HM Dockyard at Devonport in Plymouth on 28 January 1901. The ship was launched on 18 June 1902, and completed on 21 November 1905.

Operational history

RN service

RAN service

She was transferred to the RAN in 1912 as a training cruiser, pending the completion of HMAS Brisbane, and was commissioned into the RAN on 1 July.

Assigned to the Pacific Station during 1914-15, Encounter was part of the force which occupied German New Guinea. In the course of these operations she captured the steamer Zambezi on 12 August and, on 14 September, bombarded Toma Ridge to support the Australian Military and Naval Expeditionary Force. She covered the landing at Madang on 24 December. While patrolling the Fiji-Samoa area she captured the German sailing vessel Elfriede on 25 April 1915.

In July 1916, during a visit by to an unnamed island off the coast of Western Australia, two bronze cannons were discovered by Encounter officers Commander C.W. Stevens and Surgeon Lieutenant W. Roberts. The latter described:

approximately 25 paces from the water’s edge, we saw the two carronades protruding, through the sand 2/3rds of each being exposed so that they were easily lifted out. They were ... 6 feet apart and certainly had the appearance of leading marks ... a large number of the ship’s company landed and next day, shifted sand over practically the whole area for a considerable depth. The only other object found was a small portion of a brass bound chest. You can imagine the disappointment of the matelots who had visions of buried treasure
—Surgeon Commander Roberts, Letter from Surgeon Commander Roberts, 18 August 1933.[1]

Since these guns were erroneously thought to be carronades, the place was named "Carronade Island".[1][2]

In early 1919, Encounter was sent to Darwin to protect Administrator John Gilruth, following the Darwin Rebellion. Gilruth and his family boarded her on 20 February 1919 and were taken to Melbourne.[3]

Decommissioning and fate

Encounter paid off into reserve on 30 September 1920, was renamed Penguin on 1 January 1923, and served as an accommodation ship until decommissioned on 15 August 1929. She was scuttled on 14 September 1932 off Sydney. Encounter now lies at a depth of around 74 metres (243 ft) and is dived regularly.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Green, Jeremey (2006). "The Carronade Island Guns and Southeast Asian gun founding" (PDF). Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Museum. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  2. Green, Jeremy. The Carronade Island guns and Australia's early visitors. Great circle, Vol.4, no.1 (1982), pp. 73-83.
  3. Rosenzweig, Paul (1996). Governors, Residents and Administrator of the Northern Territory, pp. 30-31. Northern Territory Government. Retrieved on 4 May 2008.

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