HMAS Inverell (I)
Bathurst Class
Australian Minesweeper
J233, M233
Mort's Dock & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney
Laid Down
7 December 1941
2 May 1942
Launched by
Mrs TS Punch, the Mayoress of Inverell
17 September 1942
14 June 1946
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 650 tons
Length 186 feet
Beam 31 feet
Draught 8 feet 6 inches
Speed 15 knots
Machinery Triple expansion, 2 shafts
Horsepower 2000
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • 1 Bofors (later)
  • Machine guns
Other Armament
  • 3 x Oerlikons (later 2)
  • Depth charge chutes and throwers
Battle Honours

HMAS Inverell was one of sixty Australian Minesweepers (commonly known as corvettes) built during World War II in Australian shipyards as part of the Commonwealth Government's wartime shipbuilding programme. Twenty were built on Admiralty order but manned and commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy. Thirty six (including Inverell) were built for the Royal Australian Navy and four for the Royal Indian Navy.

HMAS Inverell was laid down at Morts Dock Engineering Company, Balmain, Sydney, NSW on 7 December 1941. She was launched on 2 May 1942 by Mrs TS Punch, the Mayoress of Inverell, and was the first RAN warship to carry the name of the northern NSW town. By the war's end Mort's Dock had constructed fourteen of the sixty Bathurst Class corvettes.

Inverell prior to launching.
HMAS Inverell prior to launching.

HMAS Inverell commissioned at Sydney on 17 September 1942 under the command of Lieutenant John R Suffren RANR(S).

After a period of working up the ship commenced her operational service on 7 November when she departed Sydney to assume escort duty with a Melbourne bound convoy. Escort duty on the Australian east coast occupied her until the end of December, when she sailed from Sydney to take up similar duties in northern waters. For ten months Inverell was employed mainly in running between Thursday Island and Darwin, with one trip to Onslow in February 1943.

On 11 November 1943 Inverell arrived at Williamstown Naval Dockyard to undergo a refit. She sailed for the north again on 16 December to resume convoy escort and patrol duties.

Mrs TS Punch, the Mayoress of Inverell, launching HMAS Inverell on 2 May 1942 at Mort's Dock & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney.
Mrs TS Punch, the Mayoress of Inverell, launching HMAS Inverell on 2 May 1942 at Mort's Dock & Engineering Co Ltd, Sydney.

Early in February 1944 Inverell rescued eight survivors from a United States Army Air Force Liberator bomber which had crashed on Croker Island, Northern Territory. The pilot, who had been seriously injured, died on board and the remaining seven survivors were landed in Darwin. Except for a period between May and July 1945 and brief visits in 1945 and 1946, Inverell's service in northern Australian waters came to an end on 22 September 1944, when she sailed for Fremantle.

The ship was based at Fremantle until May 1945 and continued her routine escort and patrol duties, but was mainly engaged in exercising with United States Navy and Royal Navy submarines operating from Western Australia.

On 4 May Inverell departed Fremantle for Darwin, where she arrived on 22 May. After a period occupied with minesweeping and exercises the ship sailed from Darwin on 11 July, towing the Services Reconnaissance Department vessel HMAS River Snake, accompanied by Inverell's sister ship HMAS Stawell as Senior Officer. Late in the voyage River Snake proceeded under her own power and the other two ships arrived at Morotai on 17 July. Inverell was occupied mainly on patrol duties until the end of hostilities on 15 August.

With the end of hostilities the ship remained busily occupied with various duties related to the assumption of control of Netherlands East Indies territory from the Japanese. A Port Directorate was established in Inverell from 21 September to 18 November, with her Commanding Officer as Port Director Macassar. The ship's duties in that period took her to Borneo, Amboina and Morotai. On 29 November 1945 she sailed from Morotai for Australia.

Crew members onboard HMAS Inverell.
Crew members onboard HMAS Inverell.

After a month's duty mainly on the Queensland coast, including a brief visit out of the state's waters to Grafton, Inverell arrived at Brisbane on 25 December 1945 to commence preparations for paying off into Reserve. Various factors made this process a somewhat protracted one and the ship did not pay off until 14 June 1946. She had steamed 93,720 miles since commissioning.

On 4 November 1947 Inverell's sister ship HMAS Echuca departed Brisbane with Inverell under tow. The ship arrived at Sydney on 17 November. Inverell remained in Reserve at Sydney.

At Garden Island Naval Base, Sydney, the Minister for Defence Hon PA McBride, handed over the vessel to the New Zealand High Commissioner, Mr GEL Alderton. HMAS Inverell then sailed for New Zealand waters under a steaming party of officers and men of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Inverell and three of her sister ships (Echuca, Kiama and Stawell) were presented by the Australian Government to the New Zealand Government on 5 March 1952. Inverell commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy at Sydney on 10 April 1952. After a refit she was again placed in Reserve. In 1965 she began a refit to convert her for training and fisheries patrol duties as a replacement for HMNZS Rotoiti. On 15 August 1965 Inverell recommissioned at Auckland. She paid off at Devonport Naval Base, Auckland, on 19 August 1976. On 1 November 1977 the ship was sold for scrap to Pacific Scrap Limited.

The New Zealand High Commissioner, Mr GEL Alderton, leaves Inverell after she was handed over by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon PA McBride.

HMNZS Inverell.

Note: This video is hosted on YouTube. Department of Defence users will not be able to view this video on the Defence Protected Network.

This cine film has been placed online as part of the Sea Power Centre - Australia's ongoing archival digitisation program.

Further reading

  • 'The Corvettes: Forgotten Ships of the Royal Australian Navy' by Iris Nesdale - published by the author, October, 1982.
  • 'Corvettes - Little Ships for Big Men' by Frank B Walker - published by Kingfisher Press, NSW, 1996.
  • 'The Australian Centenary History of Defence Volume III, The Royal Australian Navy' edited by David Stevens, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2001.