Explorer Class
General Purpose Vessel
Role Survey duties/Naval Reserve training
GPV902, Y267 and G247
International Callsign
Walkers Ltd, Maryborough
26 March 1960
Launched by
Mrs JB Wilson
15 November 1960
17 December 1982
Remained in service as a GPV following decomissiong. Sold in February 1994 for conversion to a fishing trawler
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 207 tons standard
Length 101 ft overall
Beam 22 feet
Draught 6 feet
Speed 10 knots
Crew 14
Machinery Diesel engines
Horsepower 348 bhp aggregate
Guns Light machine guns

HMAS Bass was laid down in the yard of Walkers Ltd, Maryborough, Queensland in 1959. She was launched by Mrs JB Wilson on 28 March 1960 and commissioned on 15 November 1960 under the command of Lieutenant Geoffrey Kennedy, RAN, at a ceremony conducted at Garden Island, Sydney.

Bass was originally painted in a white paint scheme to reflect her role as part of the RAN's survey fleet.

Following her commissioning Bass was initially engaged in survey operations in waters that stretched from Queensland to South Australia including inshore operations between Port Lincoln and the Sir Joseph Banks group in the Spencer Gulf. In February 1962 Bass commenced a survery of southern Tasmanian waters before returning to Sydney in May. In the latter half of 1962 Bass deployed for the Gulf of Carpentaria where she assisted HMAS Warrego in charting the approaches to Weipa which at that time was being developed as a port from which bauxite could be exported.

In March 1963 Bass was dispatched to Darwin from where she was to operate as a replacement for HMAS Banks while she underwent a refit in Sydney. During a mid-year survey of north eastern Arnhem Land, Bass discovered the wreckage of two Vultee Vengeance aircraft in a isolated area which had not been visited since World War II.

The following year saw Bass, under the commander of Lieutenant WSG Bateman, RAN operating along the coast some 150 miles west of Darwin. On 9 November the fishing vessel Phaleron grounded on a reef off Thursday Island and both Bass and HMAS Moresby were dispatched to render assistance. Portable equipment from the stricken vessel was recovered along with five of her crew who were later landed at Thursday Island.

During September and October 1965 Bass assisted HMA Ships Diamantina, Gascoyne and Moresby in a survey of the approaches to Port Hedland, Western Australia. Her time based in Darwin came to an end in October the following year when orders were received for her to return to Sydney for a major refit.

On completion of her refit, and with a new grey paint scheme applied, Bass was handed over to the Royal Australian Naval Reserve at Waverton, Sydney on 7 July 1967. Shortly afterwards, under the command of Lieutenant IC Hutcheson, RAN, and in company with her sister ship Banks (bound for Port Adelaide), Bass sailed for Hobart, Tasmania to take up duty as a training ship at the reserve training establishment HMAS Huon.

In that capacity Bass became a familiar sight on the Derwent River and many members of the Hobart Port Divsion of the RANR undertook training cruises in her. In mid-1973 Bass, in company with HMA Ships Banks, Curlew and Teal, participated in fishery patrols and exercises in Bass Strait.

HMAS Bass in her early guise as a survey vessel. Note the white paint scheme.

Bass remained in Tasmania for many years conducting pilotage training, coastal navigation exercises. anchorwork, boat drills, blind pilotage training as well as myriad other seamanship evolutions.

In August 1982 she returned to Sydney where she was home ported at HMAS Waterhen. There she continued in a reserve training ship role for which she proved most suitable. By then, however, problems were beginning to arise with the ship's material state which was exacerbated by the lack of a permanent crew.

Bass decomissioned in December 1982 but was retained in service as an active auxiliary vessel for training and fleet support duties. In October 1985 GPV Bass left Sydney bound for Darwin where she was again employed supporting the Naval Reserve attached to the Darwin Port Division.

In 1994 at the end of her useful life Bass was sold for conversion to a fishing trawler, and for many years she was moored in the waters to the west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On 16 May 2020, Bass was towed out of Sydney Harbour by the tug Taralga and taken to Port Macquarie to be broken up for scrap.

HMAS Bass departing Sydney in her role as a general purpose vessel, circa 1982.
HMAS Bass general arrangement plan
HMAS Bass general arrangement plan.