- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- RAN operations, Ship histories and stories, WWII operations, History - WW2
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Waterhen, HMAS Voyager I, HMAS Stuart I
- September 1987 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
These operations included taking part in the evacuation of both Greece and Crete. In May 1941, the Tobruk Ferry service was initiated using the destroyers of the Inshore Squadron. The object of the service was to provide logistic support for Australian and other soldiers that were surrounded in Tobruk.
On 28 June 1941, Waterhen, in company with HMS Defender, departed Alexandria for Tobruk. At about 7.45 p.m., whilst off Sollum, both ships were attacked by dive- bombers. Though neither ship was hit, Waterhen was badly damaged as a result of near misses from three sticks of bombs.
The first stick of bombs, which fell about 30 feet clear of the ships port bow, caused a leak in the No.1 oil fuel tank, as well as carrying away the W/T aerials. The second stick fell 50 feet astern of the ship. The final stick, which fell close alongside the ship’s port side, caused the most damage. As a result of this third stick the vessel developed a list to port, the boiler fires were blown out and the ship’s wheel was jammed. The list was the result of an eight foot long hole below the waterline between the engine room and No.3 oil fuel tank, the engine room and main cabin flat were flooded immediately. Flooding also occurred in the tiller flat and No.2 boiler room as a result of severe structural damage. Some 25 minutes after being attacked the ship had developed a dangerous list to starboard and was abandoned. Three-and-a-half hours later Waterhen was reboarded and a tow line was passed to Defender, however, between 0015 and 0030 the list increased and the ship was once again abandoned, though the tow was continued. Finally, at about 0150 on the morning of 30 June 1941, the fight to save the gallant ship was lost as the ‘Old Chook‘ rolled over and sank.
The Waterhen was the first ship of the Royal Australian Navy to be lost in the Second World War as a direct result of enemy action.
|Type:||Destroyer ‘W’ Class|
|Length:||312 feet 2 inches (overall)|
|Beam:||29 feet 7 inches|
|Draught:||9 feet 8 inches|
|Builders:||Palmers Shipbuilding Co Ltd., Hebburn-on-Tyne, England|
|Laid Down:||3 July, 1917|
|Launched:||23 March, 1918|
|Completed:||17 July, 1918|
|Machinery:||Parsons Turbines (Twin Screws)|
|Armament:||4×4 inch Guns|
|1 x 2 Pounder Gun|
|6×21 inch Torpedo Tubes (Two Triple Mountings)|
(Reprinted by kind permission of ‘The Navy’)