- Weaver, Trevor
- Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Cootamundra, HMAS Macquarie, HMAS Latrobe, HMAS Barcoo, HMAS Barwon, HMAS Kapunda, HMAS Wagga, HMAS Burdekin, HMAS Inverell, HMAS Swan II, HMAS Bundaberg, HMAS Manoora I, HMAS Westralia I, HMAS Vendetta I, HMAS Gascoyne I, HMAS Hawkesbury I
- December 1983 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
HMAS BARCOO was one of the eight Australian built River Class anti-submarine frigates laid down during the Second World War. All except Barwon and Macquarie saw active service in the latter part of the war.
Barcoo was laid down at Cockatoo Island Dockyard on 21 October 1942 and was launched on 26 August 1943. She was commissioned by Lieutenant Commander A.J. Travis, RAN on 17 January 1944.
After short trials and work-up in local waters she was despatched on active service off the north coast of New Guinea. She arrived at Milne Bay on 15 March 1944 where she met her older sister HMAS Gascoyne. In the next few months she was employed as a maid of all duties patrolling, escorting, providing gun support and protection for smaller craft in the area.
On 13 May 1944 Barcoo joined HMAS Kapunda in the bombardment of Japanese positions on Karkar Island and Bunabun on the mainland. Three days later she was operating with HMAS Wagga, ML803, ML421 and ML817 in softening up the coast at Uligan Harbour, Neptune Point, Bunabun Harbour in preparation for occupation by Australian Army units.
Lieutenant Commander C.G. Hill, DSC assumed command on 16 October and Barcoo joined Vendetta and Swan as a naval escort for Allied ships in the Jacquinot Bay area of New Britain as a preliminary to Operation Battleaxe. From 4 to 6 November the flotilla carried out anti-submarine patrols off the entrance to Jacquinot Bay and Wide Bay. On the 7th they bombarded targets in the Wide Bay area. When this operation was complete they sailed for Langemak to provide escorts and to patrol as far west as Morotai.
Barcoo formed part of the screen for the convoy of 150 ships, including the Australian landing ships Manoora and Westralia, which sailed from Morotai on 26 April 1945 for the invasion of Tarakan. Her sister ships Burdekin and Hawkesbury were also units of the screen.
The assault on Tarakan began on 1 May 1945 and Barcoo remained in the area, except for two convoy escorts, until the end of May. She was the last major Australian ship to leave the area.
Barcoo sailed from Tarakan on 31 May as senior ship of ten LCTs and forty-four LCMs bound for the landing at Brunei. She arrived off the beachhead on 10 June and saw the Landing Ships Infantry land their troops.
The remainder of this month saw her employed in escort and patrol activities around Brunei. At the end of June she departed for Morotai escorting a convoy of LSTs.
When the Japanese surrendered in August 1945 Barcoo joined Burdekin, Bundaberg, Cootamundra, Latrobe and Inverell in Operation Recovery, planned to secure the early release of Allied prisoners of war believed to be held on Ambon. The operation did not achieve its object at Ambon but on 1 September Barcoo embarked 153 Indian prisoners of war held on Mili Island near Morotai.
Barcoo arrived at Balikpapan on 20 September to embark troops of 21st Brigade. Next day she entered Macassar with other RAN and RN units and was greeted on the wharfside by a guard of honour of prisoners of war. The port was not occupied by Allied troops until the next day. Barcoo had the pleasure of ferrying the British ex-prisoners out to HMS Maidstone in which they were evacuated.
The frigate’s last occupation was Bandjermasin. This operation was completed on 30 September and Barcoo’s eighteen months war service ended.
Early River-Class Specifications
Original Displacement: 1,420 tons standard, 2,220 tons full load
Length: 301 ft (91.74m) overall
Beam: 36½ ft (11.12m)
Draught: 12 ft (3.65m) mean
Armament: Two single 4″ (102mm) HA/LA guns, 8 single Oerlikons, 1 Hedgehog, 150 d/cs
Boilers: 2 Yarrow Admiralty 3 drum type
Machinery: 4 Cylinder triple expansion reciprocating 2 shafts
Speed: 20 knots
Oil Fuel: 640 tons