HMAS Moresby (1918)

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HMAS Moresby in February 1940
HMAS Moresby in February 1940
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Silvio
Namesake: Famous racehorse
Builder: Barclay Curle and Co Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland
Laid down: 27 November 1917
Launched: 12 April 1918
Fate: Transferred to Royal Australian Navy
Career (Australia)
Name: HMAS Moresby
Namesake: Captain (later Admiral) John Moresby
Commissioned: 20 June 1925
Decommissioned: 21 December 1929
Recommissioned: 27 April 1933
Decommissioned: 14 December 1934
Recommissioned: 11 April 1935
Decommissioned: 14 March 1946
Motto: "With Science And Vision"
Fate: Sold for scrap on 3 February 1947
General characteristics
Class and type: 24 class sloop
Displacement: 1,320 tons (as minesweeper)
1,650 tons (as survey ship)
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h) (as minesweeper)
14 knots (26 km/h) (as survey ship)
Armament: Peace:
1 x 3-pounder gun
1 x 4-inch (100 mm) gun
1 x 12-pounder guns
2 x Oerlikons

HMAS Moresby (formerly HMS Silvio) was a 24-class (also known as Racehorse class) "Fleet Sweeping" sloop that served in the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as a minesweeper, anti-submarine vessel, and survey ship. The ship was involved in both World Wars, and was the venue of the Japanese surrender of Timor on 11 September 1945.


The sloop was laid down as HMS Silvio, named after a British Epsom Derby-winning racehorse, by Barclay Curle and Co Ltd at their Glasgow shipyard on 27 November 1917.[1] She was launched on 12 April 1918, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 25 May 1918.[1]

Operational history

Royal Navy

On 25 July 1918, Silvio, HMS Moresby and three other warships were escorting a convoy when it came under attack by a U-boat off the coast of Ulster.[1] All five escorts attacked the submarine, but none were successful in damaging it.[1]

In 1925, Silvio was the last of five of the 24-class sloops to be converted to survey ships.[1] In the same year, the ship was lent to the Australian Government to assist HMAS Geranium in surveying a navigation channel through the Great Barrier Reef.[1] The ship was renamed and recommissioned into the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS Moresby on 20 June 1925.[1] She departed England on 28 June, and arrived in Australia in September.[1]

Royal Australian Navy

Moresby participated in the Great Barrier Reef survey until 21 December 1929, when she was decommissioned into reserve in Sydney.[1] She was recommissioned on 27 April 1933, to perform urgent strategic surveys of the waters north of Australia.[1] On completion, the sloop was returned to reserve on 14 December 1934 and converted to oil burning.[1] Moresby was reconverted for survey work and recommissioned on 11 April 1935, returning to northern Australia for survey work until the beginning of World War II in September 1939.[1] In May 1937, after the eruption of volcanoes of the Rabaul caldera resulted in the evacuation of Rabaul to nearby Kokopo, Moresby was sent to New Britain and instructed to provide any assistance necessary.[1] The only need for the sloop was to transport provisions to the refugees.[1]

During the first year of World War II, Moresby was used as an anti-submarine training vessel, a role she maintained until January 1941, when she was reassigned to survey duty in the waters of Australia and New Guinea.[1] Following the Japanese attacks on the Allies in December 1941, the sloop was used as a convoy escort and anti-submarine vessel off the east coast of Australia.[1] During the two years in this role, three of the convoys escorted by Moresby were attacked by Japanese submarines; December 1942 off Gabo Island with no damage, April 1943 with the sinking of the Yugoslav vessel Recina and the loss of 32 of her crew, and May 1943 off the New South Wales coast with SS Ormiston damaged but able to reach port.[1] This two year period saw the greatest Japanese submarine activity off Australia's east coast, with sixteen other ships sunk.[1]

File:Japanese surrender at Timor P02325.006.jpg
The Timor surrender ceremony aboard HMAS Moresby

In November 1943, Moresby was reassigned to survey duties, and spent the rest of the war based in Darwin.[1] In September and October 1945, Moresby was assigned to a group of ships assisting the re-occupation of Timor.[1] The Japanese surrender of Timor was performed aboard Moresby on 11 September 1945.[1] After this deployment, the sloop was sent to survey Yampi Sound, before sailing to Sydney for decommissioning.[1]

Decommissioning and fate

Moresby was decommissioned into reserve for the final time on 14 March 1946, and was sold to Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd (BHP) for scrapping on 3 February 1947.[1] After being towed to BHP's Newcastle works, Moresby was cut down until there was only 2 feet (0.61 m) of freeboard.[2] This 420 ton hulk was towed up the Hunter River, beached, and broken down into 30-foot (9.1 m) sections.[2]

Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 "HMAS Moresby (I)". Sea Power Centre Australia. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 A.N. Other. "White Lady of the North - HMAS Moresby". Naval History Society of Australia,. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 

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