Our namesake sails to war

ANNIVERSARY: The HMAS Shoalhaven was one of the first warships to be sent to the Korean War. This Sunday marks 67 years since the Korean War began. Photo:  Shoalhaven Historical Society.

ANNIVERSARY: The HMAS Shoalhaven was one of the first warships to be sent to the Korean War. This Sunday marks 67 years since the Korean War began. Photo: Shoalhaven Historical Society.

This weekend marks the 67th anniversary since the Korean War began and the involvement of warship HMAS Shoalhaven.  

On June 29, 1950 PM Menzies announced the HMAS Bataan, destroyer and HMAS SHoalhaven, previously operating in Far Eastern waters, has been placed at the disposal of the UN for action in Korea. 

August 24, 1950 saw the Shoalhaven under the command of the Cdr. I.H Mcdonald begin operations with the Commonwealth task force blockading the coast of Korea. 

When a call was made for naval gun support, HMAS Shoalhaven was deployed. The Shoalhaven also escorted American naval ships running between Japan and South Korea. 

She was decommissioned and put into reserve on December 20, 1956 after steaming over 226,000 miles during her career.

The Shoalhaven’s service included one operational tour and one armistice patrol. During the 1950s the ship was fitted with a new pylon mast in place of the original tripod. 

HMAS Shoalhaven also took part in the Australian Naval flotilla led by the flagship, HMAS Australia which led the international fleet gathered in Sydney Harbour to celebrate Australia’s Golden Jubilee on January 29, 1951. 

After its service in Korea, the Shoalhaven was returned to Australian waters. In October 1952 she took part in the British atomic tests on Montebello Islands off Western Australia.

MEMORABILIA: The ship’s bell and crest are on permanent loan from the Australian War Memorial to the Shoalhaven Historical Society.

MEMORABILIA: The ship’s bell and crest are on permanent loan from the Australian War Memorial to the Shoalhaven Historical Society.

During 1953 she accompanied the Japanese pearling fleet off Darwin, after which she returned to Far Eastern waters, visiting Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. Returning once more to Australia, she underwent a refit in Sydney and recommenced patrols in the Darwin area. She was paid off in Sydney on December 19, 1955. 

She was decommissioned and put into reserve on December 20, 1956 after steaming over 226,000 miles during her career. She remained laid up until she was sold in January 1962 to H.C Sleigh & Co. representing Mitsubishi (Aust) Pty. Ltd. On August 17, 1962 the Shoalhaven left Sydney under tow to Japan. 

The ship’s bell and crest are on permanent loan from the Australian War Memorial to the Shoalhaven Historical Society. 

HMAS Shoalhaven warship

  • Type: Modified River (Bay) Class Frigate
  • Displacement: 1,537 tons (standard), 2,200 tons (full load) 
  • Length: 301 feet
  • Beam: 36 feet 6 inches
  • Draught: 12 feet
  • Builder: Walkers Ltd, Maryborough
  • Laid down: December 1, 1943
  • Launched: December 14, 1944 by Senator Dorothy Tangney
  • Completed: May 1, 1946
  • Machinery: Triple expansion, two shafts
  • Horsepower: 5,500
  • Speed: 10.5 knots
  • Armament: 4x4 inch guns, 3 x 40mm Bofors, 4 x 20mm Oerlikons, 1 x Hedgehog, 4 x Depth Charge Throwers
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