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- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Warramunga I
- March 1988 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
DURING 1943 several Japanese submarines operated off the east coast of Australia. In all about 14 ships were torpedoed by these subs. Surface escorts for ships operating off the coast were in short supply and as far as possible an air escort was provided for ships sailing in groups.
On the 9th February three American ships, Jim Bridger (7180 tons), Archbishop Lamy (7176 tons) and Starr King (7176 tons) were to leave Sydney in company and to be covered by one aircraft in daylight hours. However Starr King was delayed in leaving by some two hours and was on her own without air cover. On the 10th February, four RAAF Hudsons were carrying out a diverging search off the coast and about 150 miles east of Sydney they sighted an American Liberty ship down by the stern and sinking rapidly. It was Starr King. She had been attacked by the Japanese Submarine I-21 and had been hit by two torpedoes delivered one hour apart.
The new Tribal class destroyer HMAS Warramunga, based on Sydney while working up, was despatched at full speed and reached the stricken ship early in the afternoon of the 10th February. The crew of the Starr King had abandoned ship, there being no casualties. The ship was down by the stern but appeared to be stable, so the crew returned to the ship in an attempt to have the destroyer take her in tow.
Several attempts were made to take her in tow but were unsuccessful and further attempts became impossible as darkness fell. The crew were ferried to the destroyer in their lifeboats and she stood by the vessel in readiness to start work again as soon as the daylight hours commenced. However at approximately 2.30 a.m. Starr King heeled over and sank. The crew were returned to Sydney aboard Warramunga.