- Letter Writer
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Koala, HMAS Karangi, HMAS Kimbla, HMAS Kangaroo
- June 1984 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Recently while cruising the Parramatta River, a detour into Homebush Bay proved quite interesting. I had intended to photograph the tug “Bustler” which lies derelict there. Alongside Bustler is what appears to be a barge; upon closer inspection an idea of its true identity becomes apparent.
It is in fact a boom defence vessel that has been stripped down so that all that remains is the hull. All forms of identification, i.e. numbers, have long since disappeared and she is only recognisable by her ribbed stern and the remains of her bow.
I knew of the Bustler due to a photograph in “A Century of Shipping in Sydney Harbour” by Ross Gillett and Michael Melliar-Phelps. Upon referring to this I found only one mention of a boom defence vessel, the Kookaburra, a net class vessel completed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in 1939.
The Kookaburra was stripped at Blackwattle Bay in 1967 where she sank at her moorings. Raised in 1970 she was towed from the harbour and sunk; so this is obviously not the vessel in question.
The quest for information then led to “Warships of Australia”, once again by Ross Gillett. This book listed five purpose built vessels in Australian service. These were HMA Ships Kookaburra, Koala, Kangaroo, Karangi and Kimbla. Since the fate of the Kookaburra is known and the Kimbla is still in commission, this narrows it down to the three wartime Bar class vessels – Koala, Kangaroo and Karangi.
Warships of Australia states that the Koala was sold to a Queensland company and operated as a gravel barge on the Brisbane River. In January 1974 floodwaters washed Koala into a bridge at Jindalee damaging several pylons, as a result charges were placed in her hull and she sank next day.
Karangi was sold in 1965 and scrapped sometime in 1965-66.
Kangaroo suffered the same fate but was sold in August to Hurley and Dewhurst Pty Ltd, the same company which bought the tug Bustler in the same year. Since the Bustler and this hull lie side by side and that Bustler was acquired by the same firm as the Kangaroo, I have come to the conclusion that the hull is that of the Kangaroo. This belief is, as stated, based on the information above. I would greatly appreciate any additional information as to her identity through these pages.
Able Seaman Dental