HMAS Bataan
Tribal Class
  • Transport
  • Convoy escort
  • Amphibious support
  • Shore bombardment
  • Patrol
  • Anti-air screening
  • Mine demolition
Unguibus Et Rostro (With Talons and Beak)
Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
18 February 1942
15 January 1944
Launched by
Mrs MacArthur, wife of General Douglas MacArthur, United States Army
25 May 1945
18 October 1954
Sold for scrap on 2 May 1958
Dimensions & Displacement
  • 1787 tonnes (standard)
  • 2449 tonnes (full load)
Length 114.91 metres
Beam 11.13 metres
Draught 4.72 metres
  • 36 knots (maximum)
  • 11.5 knots (economical)
Crew 250
Machinery 3 x drum-type boilers, Parsons Impulse Reaction turbines, 2 propellers, 44,000 shp
Horsepower 44,000
  • 6 x 4.7-inch guns
  • 2 x 4-inch guns
  • 6 x 40mm anti-aircraft guns
  • 4 x 40mm pom-pom anti-aircraft guns
  • 4 machine guns
Torpedoes 4 x 21-inch torpedo tubes
Other Armament 2 depth charge throwers
Battle Honours KOREA 1950-53
HMAS Bataan badge

The third of the three Australian built Tribal Class Destroyers was to have been named HMAS Kurnai after an Australian Aboriginal tribe. However as a tribute to the Australian-American alliance during World War II the name was changed to HMAS Bataan - in recognition of the courageous stand by US troops on the Bataan Peninsular in the Philippines. Mrs Jean Marie MacArthur, the wife of General Douglas MacArthur, was invited to launch her.

Bataan commissioned at Sydney on 25 May 1945 under the command of Commander Henry Burrell, RAN, although it was too late for the ship to participate in active hostilities.

HMAS Bataan on the day of her launching, 15 January 1944.
HMAS Bataan on the day of her launching, 15 January 1944.

She proceeded to the Philippines in July 1945 and from there was sent to Japan, reaching Tokyo on 31 August 1945 to take part in the surrender ceremony which took place on 2 September on board USS Missouri. She remained in Japanese waters assisting with the evacuation of allied prisoners of war and as the Australian Squadron representative until 18 November 1945 when she sailed from Tokyo to return to Australia.

In September 1946, following eight months service in home waters, Bataan returned to Japan for the first of four tours of duty in the Far East in the post war period of 1946 to 1949. In all she had spent seventeen months on foreign service when she returned to Sydney at the close of September 1949.

In June 1950 Bataan proceeded for Japan for her fifth post war tour of duty. She arrived in Hong Kong on 21 June and was in Far East waters when the Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950.

On 1 July Bataan arrived at Okinawa and reported for duty to Commander Task Group 96.8, Flag Officer 2nd-in-Command Far East Fleet, flying his flag in HMS Belfast, and was temporarily attached to a United States Service Group.

HMAS Bataan's ship's company, circa 1947.
HMAS Bataan's ship's company, circa 1947.

On 6 July Bataan transferred to the United States Escort Group, Task Group 96.1, for convoy escort duties in the Korean Straits until 13 July when she joined Task Force 90 (Rear Admiral Doyle USN), for the amphibious landing of United Nations forces at Pohang Dong. She detached on 21 July, ending her first hostile operational patrol.

Operations recommenced on 28 July as a unit of a blockading force on the west coast, in company with HM Ships Belfast and Charity. It was routine patrolling, unrelieved except for a brief exchange with an enemy coastal battery at Haiju on 1 August. The patrol ended the following day.

Bridge and gun crews closed up during firing serial.
Bridge and gun crews closed up during firing serial.

August 1950 proved a quiet month for the destroyer's complement with three weeks in port and ten days on the west coast patrol, ending when the ship entered Pusan on 29 August.

Patrol on the west coast was resumed on 1 September, Bataan's duties for the first three days following the now familiar pattern of patrolling in company by day for mutual support against possible air attack and separating by night for inshore blockade in the approaches to Inchon and Kunsan.

In the second phase covering three days, 4 to 6 September, Bataan was employed screening the British carrier HMS Triumph which was operating spotting aircraft in support of HMS Jamaica's bombardments in the Inchon and Kunsan areas. The final phase of this patrol began on 7 September with Bataan again screening Triumph on east coast air attacks against Wonsan. On 11 September Bataan returned to Sasebo. Between 12 and 21 September, on her fourth patrol, the destroyer operated in support of forces at sea during the course of the landings at Inchon, her part being limited to the brief sighting of the convoys and Carrier Task Groups taking part.

On 27 September Bataan relieved HMCS Sioux and in company with HMCS Athabaskan assumed responsibility for blockading the Kunsan area. On the same day, both ships carried out an intensive bombardment of Youjiko To Island where Marines had been repulsed with losses the previous afternoon. Further bombardments and mine demolition in the Kunsan approaches kept the destroyer occupied until 2 October when she detached for Sasebo, having completed seven weeks of patrols and steaming 11,473 miles.

Bataan resumed patrols on the Korean west coast on 14 October 1950 and continued operating mainly in the approaches to Inchon throughout the month. By this time the centre of naval activity had moved to the east coast for the amphibious landings at Wonsan and where naval bombardment was still being used in direct support of the allied armies ashore. It was routine, uneventful duty for Bataan. The month closed with the ship 17 days out from Kure, acting as Senior Officer of the screening destroyers operating with the carrier HMS Theseus off Chinnampo. The patrol ended on 7 November.

HMAS Bataan firing her 120mm guns
Shore bombardments were conducted by day and night in support of Allied forces fighting on the Korean peninsula.

On 14 November Bataan returned to the west coast and joined Commander Task Element 95.12 in HMS Ceylon. This patrol, which closed on 22 November, consisted of a very rough passage to the patrol area, a period as station ship at the entrance to the Chinnampo swept channel and a further period of comparative inactivity anchored in the lee of Techong To Island.

On Techong To the destroyer's Commanding Officer, abroad on an unsuccessful duck shooting expedition, found it expedient to rest awhile. "A tall and typical 'Mr Kim' complete with tall hat, long pipe and wispy beard suddenly appeared and sat down beside me. He pulled from his pocket a tattered book and without further ado sang a song; I realised, in the following interval that Navy's reputation was at stake so I launched into 'Shenandoah', which appeared to be most appreciated. The performance continued for some time and perhaps it would be wise not to dwell on my repertoire; at its conclusion we rose to our feet, bowed and went our several ways."

On 1 December 1950 Bataan departed Sasebo for the Yalu River approaches on the west coast and she joined HMAS Warramunga (I) and HMC Ships Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux, and USS Forest B Royal on 3 December.

At this time the Chinese Communist forces had halted the United Nations offensive in North Korea and since it appeared probable that attempts would be made to land reinforcements on the north west coast, an enforcement of the blockade as far north as possible was imperative. In these circumstances Bataan began operations twelve miles from the Yalu entrance in a temperature of 15 degrees fahrenheit.

The cold winter months often saw ice form on the upper decks of ships operating in Korean waters.
The cold winter months often saw ice form on the upper decks of ships operating in Korean waters.

The following day, 4 December, the patrol group was ordered to assemble off Choda Island in preparation for the evacuation of Chinnampo. Late that night the six destroyers began the hazardous passage through the narrow swept channel. Two ran aground en route, the remaining four including Bataan reached the port early on 5 December to find "everything quiet with numbers of ships loading under the full brilliancy of arc light." The evacuation was completed by the evening of 5 December and at 17:20 Bataan, Cayuga and USS Forest Royal began demolition bombardment before proceeding to Inchon.

From 7 to 17 December Bataan was hard at work screening Theseus and on the west coast inshore patrol, followed by twelve days with the Fire Support Element, Task Element 95.12, at Inchon.

The Task Element comprising the cruiser Ceylon and three destroyers operated in direct support of the 8th Army ashore then holding a line stretching east from Inchon and covering Seoul. The line proved static during Bataan's period in the sector, though daily bombardments using air spotters from the 25th Infantry Division proved valuable experience. On 29 December Concord relieved Bataan.

The Inchon patrol marked the close of six months arduous service in the Far East for Bataan. It was followed by port visits to Kure, Yokosuka, Hong Kong and Sasebo.

At Sasebo on 21 February 1951 Bataan met her namesake, the United States light carrier USS Bataan, which had been operating in Korean waters for several weeks. The following day Bataan proceeded to sea forming a unit of the screening forces of HMS Belfast, to commence a west coast patrol after seven weeks break from operational duty.

The patrol, which continued until 6 March, was carried out under arctic conditions and consisted in the main of inshore patrols between Inchon and Chinnampo and a full scale amphibious demonstration, between 2 and 6 March, north of Haiju designed to relieve pressure on the central front where Chinese forces were massing to assume the offensive. It included air strikes from USS Bataan, minesweeping operations, pre-assault bombardment duties and convoy escort work. Bataan's part was confined to escorts and bombardment duties, and was performed in temperatures down to 13 degrees fahrenheit. On 6 March she returned to Sasebo.

On 13 March Bataan returned to the west coast beginning duty by operating on the screen of USS Bataan. The two Bataans operated as a happy team until the Australian destroyer was relieved by USS Borie. The remainder of the patrol, which ended on 25 March, was taken up mainly by Harbour Entrance Control in the approaches to Inchon and finally two days in Inchon Harbour and then to Sasebo.

April Fool's Day found Bataan back enforcing the blockade on the west coast for an uneventful six day patrol, ending with a visit to Sasebo in preparation for a lengthy operation on the screen of a carrier force. On 8 April Bataan departed Sasebo in company with US Ships Bataan, Sperry, and English; HM Ships Theseus and Consort; and Ships Athabaskan and Huron, en route for the east coast theatre of operations.

Left: Able Seaman 'Happy' Anderson manning one of Bataan's 40-mm Bofors. Right: Sustaining Bataan's ship's company during operations off Korea was of vital importance to the health and well-being of the crew. Here 'spud barbers' are hard at work preparing the evening meal.
Left: Able Seaman 'Happy' Anderson manning one of Bataan's 40-mm Bofors. Right: Sustaining Bataan's ship's company during operations off Korea was of vital importance to the health and well-being of the crew. Here 'spud barbers 'are hard at work preparing the evening meal.
Left: A high state of readiness was required at all times by Bataan's gun's crews. Right: Petty Officer K Walls and Stoker K Noonan on watch in Bataan's boiler room.
Left: A high state of readiness was required at all times by Bataan's guns crews. Right: Petty Officer K Walls and Stoker K Noonan on watch in Bataan's boiler room.

On 28 April Bataan sailed from Sasebo for the west coast where she joined the destroyers screening USS Bataan and HMS Glory then operating in direct support of the 1st Corps, 8th Army. The screen, comprised of Bataan, two American, two Canadian and two British ships, operated as a team under Captain (D) 10th Destroyer Flotilla. The patrol proved uneventful for the screening ships and ended on 6 May.

Bataan's final patrol after eleven months service with the United Nations naval forces in Korean waters began on 10 May when she left Sasebo with Huron screening Glory, en route to the west coast. Flying operations commenced the following day and Bataan, joined by US Ships Perkins and Agerholm, became Screen Commander for the next 48 hours. The patrol proved active in good flying weather and included for Bataan a spell of air guard patrol north of the 38th Parallel. Bataan detached for Kure on 18 May.

On 29 May 1951 Bataan departed Hong Kong for home waters. She returned to Sydney on 14 June 1951 and entered refit which, when accompanied with post refit trials, occupied the remainder of 1951.

Bataan, now under the command of Commander Warwick Bracegirdle, DSC & bar, RAN deployed from Sydney on 8 January 1952 for a second tour of duty in the Korean War and relieved HMAS Murchison at Kure on 4 February 1952. Four days later she began her first patrol when she joined Task Unit 95.12.1, with the flag in HMS Mounts Bay, to relieve HMS Charity for operations in the Sokto/Chodo area, south west of Chinnampo.

It was the familiar pattern on the west coast of Korea; blockade enforcement, shore bombardment and escort duty. The weather, true to the forebodings of old hands in the ship, was bleak and squally with temperatures down to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. On the night of her arrival Bataan was allocated a patrol between Sokto and Chodo, three miles from the enemy held mainland, for harassing fire support.

The patrolling was constant and enemy forces active. On 13 February the destroyer carried out her first air spot bombardment using spotters from Glory, to shell enemy troops encamped outside the village of Pungchon. Later the same day as dusk was falling a brief duel began between the ship and 75mm shore batteries, ending with silence from the enemy and a single hit on the Captain's day cabin after 78 rounds of 4.7-inch ammunition had started two fires on the battery positions. The patrol ended on 24 February with a heavy bombardment of enemy positions on the mainland opposite Hodo Island. 543 rounds of 4.7-inch and 75 rounds of 4-inch ammunition had been expended when the ship finally withdrew en route for Sasebo.

Bataan returned to the west coast on 7 March, allocated on the screen of the familiar element 95.11, though the operational carrier, USS Bairoko (Captain Hogle USN), was new to the Australian destroyer. However there were old friends on the screen in the shape of Cayuga and Concord. Bataan was designated Screen Commander.

HMAS Bataan refuels at sea.
HMAS Bataan refuelling at sea in a moderate swell.

The main task of protecting the carrier was varied for one destroyer each night, when in turn they reinforced the inshore task unit stationed at Taechong Do and Paengyong Do. The patrol which had operated between nightfall and dawn covered the coast and offshore islands between Coppeki Point and Sunwido with orders for harassing night fire. On 13 March Bairoko was relieved by Glory and the entire group retired to Sasebo.

A similar patrol was repeated between 23 and 31 March, the screen for Bairoko being Bataan, Cayuga and USS Isbell.

Bataan began her fourth patrol on 7 April as escort from Sasebo for USS Rochester, flying the flag of Commander Task Force 95, Rear Admiral GC Dyer USN, en route for the west coast operational area. The patrol began with bombardments of the Yalu River area in which the American cruiser took part.

On 10 April Bataan relieved HMCS Nookta as Commander Task Unit 95.12.4, being a detachment from Task Element 95.11 with the flag in Belfast. The task of this unit was the defence of islands in friendly hands in the Haiju estuary and for the coordination and deployment of United Nations vessels working in cooperation with West Korean island Guerrilla and Marine forces. The axis of Bataan's responsibility lay in the island of Taeyonpyong Do which it was essential to hold. The naval forces excluding Bataan were one frigate, an American minesweeper, a Landing Ship Tank with four landing craft attached and small armed patrol craft.

There was the usual harassing fire against the enemy ashore on the mainland and on 13 April a creeping barrage laid down across the mudflats separating the island of Yongmae Do from the mainland, effectively wrote 'finis' to an attempted invasion by North Korean forces. The patrol ended on 20 April when HMS Whitesand Bay relieved Bataan in the Haiju approaches.

Bataan began her fifth patrol on 3 May, operating in the Chodo/Sokto area with Task Unit 95.12.1, relieving the destroyer Piet Hein. The remainder of the unit comprised HMS Crane and US Ships Brush, Pelican, and Current and patrol craft. After a brief uneventful period with the unit Bataan was relieved by HMNZS Rotoiti before replacing Whitesand Bay in the Haiju estuary group preventing enemy infiltration of offshore islands, Bataan's main duty of the patrol.

Overall it was a busy and varied patrol for Bataan. She worked with four separate Task Units, three inshore and one carrier element; acted as Air Control Ship at Chodo; operated as joint headquarters ship for daylight guerrilla raids, firing 400 rounds of 4.7-inch ammunition in close support; assisted in quelling an outbreak of smallpox on the island of Taeyonpyong Do; shepherded and policed the 400 junk fishing fleet in Haiju Gulf; bombarded the enemy on eight occasions; and finally carried out a series of diving operations for lost American aircraft. As her Commanding Officer wrote, "The merry month of May, never a dull moment."

In June 1952 Bataan carried out two patrols, the first on the west coast operating on the screen of the British carrier HMS Ocean, the second with the Songjun element on the east coast, patrolling and bombarding the industrial areas of Chongjin and other points on the coast. On 21 June Bataan arrived at Kure for refit.

The sleek lines of the Tribal Class Destroyer HMAS Bataan.
The sleek lines of the Tribal Class destroyer HMAS Bataan.

In July there were two further patrols, the first screening Ocean between 2 and 13 July, followed by twelve days with Task Element 95.12 (flag in HMS Newcastle) on inshore patrol and bombardment in the Sokto area on the west coast.

August began with a brief visit to Taeyongpyong Do Island to enable the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Sir John Collins KBE, CB, RAN, to inspect the defences and observe operational conditions at sea on the west coast. A bombardment of an enemy gun emplacement was carried out north east of Mudo. After visiting Paengyong Do, Bataan returned south to Inchon to disembark Admiral Collins. Bataan then proceeded to Kure.

On 17 August Bataan began her final patrol of the Korean War and her third in the Haiju area, when she assumed command of Task Unit 95.12.4 from HMS Concord. Later the same day USS Strong joined in support.

The patrol proved active and the bombardment of the particularly hostile enemy batteries ashore kept Bataan constantly on the alert. On Saturday, 30 August 1952, Bataan spent her last day on operational patrols before relieved by HMCS Iroquois. The ship was presented with South Korean flags by Korean leaders on Taeyongpyong Do and thanked for her part in preserving the island from invasion. Some 64,820 kilometres had been steamed on operations.

HMAS Bataan's unfortunate collision with HMAS Vengeance during replenishment operations.
HMAS Bataan's unfortunate collision with HMAS Vengeance during replenishment operations.

On 31 August 1952 Bataan finally left the Korean theatre, sent on her way south by many signals of congratulations including that from Commander US Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Clark, reading "Commander Seventh Fleet commends officers and men of HMAS Bataan for outstanding service in Nations Force opposing Red aggressors and spread of Communism. Well done." Bataan returned to Sydney on 3 October 1952.

Except for a visit to Singapore in November 1953, the remainder of Bataan's seagoing service was spent on the Australia Station, although this was by no means uneventful.

Between 7 and 10 October 1953, Bataan in company with the aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance were tasked for operations in support of the London to Christchurch air race. Proceeding for Jervis Bay on the night of 10/11 October, both ships encountered an intense cyclonic depression. Winds reported as Force 12 and a sea state of 9 to 12 metre seas with a 5 metre swell caused minor structural damage. Sea water pouring into Bataan's port turbo generator intakes also caused a temporary power loss.

On 5 April 1954 Bataan was damaged in a collision with Vengeance during replenishment operations in the vicinity of the Cocos Islands. This was followed by a visit to Manus Island, Rabaul and the Solomon Islands.

Bataan paid off at Sydney on 18 October 1954, having steamed 279,395nm since commissioning. Bataan was sold for scrap on 2 May 1958 to Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd of Tokyo, Japan.