Allied Warships

HMAS Hobart (D 63)

Light cruiser of the Perth class

NavyThe Royal Australian Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassPerth 
PennantD 63 
Built byDevonport Dockyard (Plymouth, U.K.) 
Ordered1 Mar 1933 
Laid down15 Aug 1933 
Launched9 Oct 1934 
Commissioned28 Sep 1938 
End service 
History

Commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Apollo on 13 January 1936.

From 1936 until 1938 HMS Apollo served on the America and West Indies Station. On 28 September 1938 Apollo was acquired from the Royal Navy by the Royal Australian Navy, she was commissioned by the crew of the HMAS Albatross (which had been transferred to the RN in part payment of Apollo) earlier than intended because of the Munich crisis. She was renamed Hobart and sailed for Australia towards the end of the year.

In October 1939 HMAS Hobart was in the East Indies and thereafter was employed in the escorting of troop convoys across the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. During November – December 1939 she was patrolling south of the Arabian sea in search for the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee and her attendant replenishment ship Altmark.

In January 1940 Hobart in company with the carrier HMS Eagle were on troop convoy escort duties. On February 8th the convoy passed Aden and reached Suez four days later, where the first New Zealand and Australian troops were disembarked. In August, in the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, she assisted in the evacuation from British Somali of troops and civilians to Aden. By December she was in the Mediterranean, while undertaking escort duties from Malta back to Alexandria, she was called to assist the last supply convoy to Tobruk as the escort vessels were in trouble due to heavy air attacks.

Late 1941, with the entry of Japan into the war, Hobart was required in the East again, and sailed for Singapore, escorting troop convoy BM-9A . The early part of this year was spent on escort duties for troop transports from Colombo to Singapore. She was also involved in escorting the evacuation convoys from Singapore. On February 25th, while being a member of the Allied strike force under Dutch Admiral Doorman, she put out from Batavia to attack the Japanese forces, however they were spotted by enemy reconnaissance aircraft and came under heavy attack. Hobart suffered only splinter damage which prevented the completion of refuelling. As a result she missed the fatal Battle of the Java Sea on the 27th, when her sister ship HMAS Perth was destroyed. In May she became a member of Task Force 44, in company with HMAS Australia and USS Chicago. During July - August she was involved in the successful landings on Guadalcanal and later the same month she was transferred to Task Force 61, under the command of Vice Admiral Fletcher (USN) and involved in sea and air battles east of the Solomons. Unfortunately on August 9th, disaster struck the Naval Forces, a Japanese Cruiser Squadron attacked, causing the loss of the Australian HMAS Canberra and the American cruisers USS Astoria, USS Quincy and USS Vincennes. Although operations in the Solomons were to continue, further RAN involvement was limited. October 1942 was spent at Sydney refitting and after this she rejoined Task Force 44 on Coral Sea patrols.

In March 1943 Hobart became part of the newly formed US 7th Fleet. During June – July while a unit of Task Force 74 under Vice Admiral Crutchley (RAN) and in company with HMAS Australia, she operated in the area of the Coral Sea and the Eastern Australian Sea in order to cover the landings on New Georgia (Central Solomons) On July 20th, Hobart was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine I-11 (offsite link). Escorted by HMAS Warramunga and HMAS Arunta the cruiser reached Sydney. On August 26th the repairs were begun.

In November 1944 the repairs from the torpedo damage were completed. In March – April 1945 Hobart in company with two American cruisers were deployed as fire support for the amphibious landings of US troops near Cebu (Philippines). On April 27th the shelling began on the assault area in the south of Tarkan. (Borneo). On May 9th Hobart with the British cruiser HMS Newfoundland began shelling Wewak (New Guinea) in support of the 6th Australian Division. In June she took part in shelling of the assault areas off Brunei Bay (Borneo) prior to the arrival of the Australian 9th Infantry Division. On August 31st in company with the Australian cruiser HMAS Shropshire she arrived in Sagami Bay Japan, to witness the peace ceremony.

Post war Hobart remained in service making three deployments to Japanese waters. On December 20th 1947 Hobart was decommissioned at Sydney. During 1953 - 1956 Hobart was extensively refitted and partly converted and modernised as a training ship at New Castle, New South Wales. For this role she was given a lattice foremast, but had all torpedo tubes and secondary guns removed. During this period, the plans regarding her being brought back into service as a fleet training ship were dropped. In 1959 Hobart was placed into reserve and later during that year it was decided that she was surplus to requirements and placed on the disposal list. On 2 February 1962 she was sold for scrap. In March 1962 Hobart left Sydney to be towed to Osaka in Japan for breaking up by Mitsue & Co at the Miyachi shipyard where she arrived on 2 April 1962.

Her badge can be seen displayed on the Selborne dry dock wall at Simonstown, South Africa.

 
Former nameHMS Apollo

Commands listed for HMAS Hobart (D 63)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Harry Leslie Howden, RAN28 Aug 19397 Jun 1942
2Capt. Henry Arthur Showers, RAN8 Jun 19428 Oct 1943
3Cdr. Frederick Norton Cook, RAN18 Oct 19438 Nov 1944
4Capt. Roy Russell Dowling, RAN8 Nov 194413 Feb 1946

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Notable events involving Hobart include:


22 Feb 1940
HMS Olympus (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Dymott, RN) conducted exercises off Colombo. These included a practice attack on the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN). (1)

1 Jan 1942
HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN), HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) departed Batavia. They were to bolster the escort of convoy BM 9A that was en-route to Singapore. The Dutch ships joined the British convoy at 1345 hours.

The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 2000/2.

Convoy BM 9A was made up of the following ships; liner (troopship) Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), passenger (or in this case troops) / cargo ships Lancashire (9445 GRT, built 1917), Rajula (8478 GRT, built 1926), Ethiopia (5575 GRT, built 1922) and Varsova (4691 GRT, built 1914). They were escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN), the British light cruisers HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN). The convoy arrived arrived at Singapore on 3 January. (2)

4 Jan 1942
HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN), HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) departed Banten Bay to bolster the escort of convoy BM 9B that was en-route to Singapore. The Dutch ships joined the British convoy around 1300 hours.

The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 2000/5.

Convoy BM 9B was made up of the following ships; passenger (or in this case troops / cargo ships Madura (8975 GRT, built 1921), Rajput (5521 GRT, built 1925), Risaldar (5407 GRT, built 1940), Jalarajan (5076 GRT, built 1925) and El Madina (3962 GRT, built 1937). They were escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN), the British light cruiser HMS Danae (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), the British destroyers HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN), HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr. (retired) G.R. Pretor-Pinney, RN) and the Australian minesweepers HMAS Goulburn (Lt. B. Paul, RANR(S)) and HMAS Burnie (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.E. Gough, RANR(S)). (2)

23 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 12.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 23 January 1942.
Arrival date: 4 February 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British troop ships; Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), Empress of Asia (16909 GRT, built 1913).

French troop ship (under British control) Felix Roussel (17083 GRT, built 1930)

and the Dutch transport Plancius (5955 GRT, built 1923).

The convoy initially proceeded unescorted.

On 26 January, the British sloop HMS Falmouth (Cdr. U.H.R. James, RN) joined the convoy in position 07°53'N, 76°23'E.

On 27 January, the British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) joined the convoy in position 04°30'N, 78°15'E. HMS Falmouth parted company with the convoy at dusk.

On 28 January, the convoy made rendez-vous with convoy DM 2 which was made up of the following ships;
British troopships Dunera (11162 GRT, built 1937), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914) and Warwick Castle (20107 GRT, built 1930) and the British transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Malancha (8124 GRT, built 1937) and Troilus (7422 GRT, built 1921). This convoy was escorted by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN) which then parted company.

On 31 January, the British light cruiser HMS Danae (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN) and the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN) joined the convoy in position 05°05'S, 94°00'E after which HMS Emerald parted company with the convoy.

On 1 February, the Indian sloop HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN) and the Australian sloop HMAS Yarra (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) joined the convoy.

On 2 February, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) joined around 0800 hours and a little over two hours later the British destroyer HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) also joined the convoy.

On the morning of 3 February the British destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) joined. Later the same day HMAS Vampire split off from the convoy with the part of the convoy that was to proceed to Batavia. These were all the ships that had been in convoy DM 2 except the City of Canterbury which went to Singapore.

Around 0200 hours on 4 February 1942, HrMs Java parted company with the convoy. Shortly before noon the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft and the Empress of Asia was straddled. Around 2130/4, HMS Exeter, HMS Jupiter and HMS Encounter parted company to intercept Japanese warships that were reported to the north of Banka Strait. HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) was ordered to join them there. They did not find any Japanese ships and proceeded to Batavia where they arrived on 6 February.

The convoy arrived at Singapore shortly after noon on 5 February 1942 but not before a heavy enemy air attack was carried out. The Empress of Asia was set on fire, the Felix Roussel was also hit and the City of Canterbury had her steering gear damaged. (3)

3 Feb 1942

Convoy JS 1.

Convoy from Colombo to Batavia .
Departure date: 3 February 1942.
Arrival date: 14 February 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British transports; Adastrus (7905 GRT, built 1923), Alice Moller (4986 GRT, built 1914), Filleigh (4856 GRT, built 1928), Lulworth Hill (7628 GRT, built 1940), Modasa (9070 GRT, built 1921), Prominent (2232 GRT, built 1918) and Yoma (8131 GRT, built 1928).

Norwegian transports Hai Lee (3616 GRT, built 1934) and Hermion (5202 GRT, built 1937).

The Alice Moller had to return to Colombo with defects.

The convoy sailed from Colombo on 3 February 1942 and was escorted initially by the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN) and the Australian minesweepers HMAS Bathurst (Lt.Cdr. A.V. Bunyan, RANR(S)) and HMAS Lismore (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Crawford, RANR(S)).

The Australian minesweepers parted company with the convoy on 5 Februaury. HMS Cornwall was relieved by HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) on 10 February in position 05°40'S, 93°00'E.

On 11 Februry 1942, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) apparently joined the escort and remained with it until 13 February.

On 12 February 1942, the British destroyer HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN) joined the convoy.

On 13 February 1942 the convoy was split up and the Filleigh Lulworth Hill, Yoma, Hai Lee and Hermion arrived at Oosthaven, Sumatra. They were escorted by HMAS Hobart and HMIS Jumna. HMIS Jumna remained at Oosthaven to provide A/S protection for that port together with the Australian minesweepers HMAS Goulburn (Lt. B. Paul, RANR(S)) and HMAS Burnie (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.E. Gough, RANR(S)).

The other ships of the convoy, the Adastrus, Modasa, and Prominent arrived at Batavia on 14 February 1942 escorted by HMS Electra. (4)

5 Feb 1942
HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) are sighted to the north-east of the Sunda Strait by the Japanese submarine RO-34 which fired four torpedoes at HMS Encounter but no hits were obtained. The submarine was hunted briefly but managed to escape.

6 Feb 1942
HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) arrived at Batavia.

14 Feb 1942
Around 1600 hours, an Allied task force, now made up of five cruisers; the Dutch light cruisers HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN), HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN), HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN). They were escorted by a total of ten destroyers, four Dutch and six American; HrMs Van Ghent (Lt.Cdr. P. Schotel, RNN), HrMs Kortenaer (Lt.Cdr. A. Kroese, RNN), HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN), HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN), USS Stewart (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Smith, USN), USS John D. Edwards (Lt.Cdr. H.E. Eccles, USN), USS Barker (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Miller, USN) and USS Bulmer (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Harris, USN), USS Pillsbury (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Pound, USN) and USS Parrott (Lt.Cdr. J.N. Hughes, USN) depared Oosthaven (Bandar Lampung), Sumatra for a hit and run raid to the north of the Gaspar Straits to attack a reported Japanese convoy. (2)

15 Feb 1942
Around 0315 hours the Allied task force entered the Stolze Strait (to the east of Mendanau Island (Pulau Mendanau). The task force was clear of the strait around 0800 hours but not before the Dutch destroyer HrMs Van Ghent (Lt.Cdr. P. Schotel, RNN) had hit a reef resulting in the loss of this vessel. The Dutch destroyer HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) remained behind to render assistance to her stranded sister but it was soon apparent that the ship was beyond salvage. Several valuable items of the equipment were however taken off and by 1700 hours the wreck of the Van Ghent was destroyed by the Banckert. The Banckert now made off for Surabaya with the crew of the Van Ghent on board.

Meanwhile around 1150 hours the first Japanese air attack on the remainder of the Allied task force started. The attacks, which came in five waves, lasted until about 1745 hours. No major damage was done to the Allied ships which had reversed course shortly after 1300 hours. Only the US destroyers USS Barker and USS Bulmer required repairs to their badly shaken up machinery spaces.

The task force was then split up with the De Ruyter, Tromp, Exeter, Hobart and the US destroyers Barker and Bulmer proceeding to Batavia to refuel. The Java and the remaining US destroyers proceeded to the Ratai Bay to refuel and the two remaining Dutch destroyers to Oosthaven to do the same. (2)

25 Feb 1942
At 1500 hours, HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) departed Batavia for Surabaya where they were to join Dutch Rear-Admiral Doorman's Eastern Striking Force.

HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) was also ordered to sail with these ships but she had not completed fuelling yet as the oiler RFA War Sirdar (5542 GRT, built 1920, (master) Cdr. M.W. Westlake, RNR) had been damaged in a Japanese air attack. (5)

27 Jun 1945
In the morning HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) bombarded Japanese shore guns off Balikpapan.

Later that day Tromp joined Task Force 74.1 which was made up of the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire (Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, MVO, DSO, RN), the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN), the Australian destroyer HMAS Arunta (Cdr. A.E. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) and the US destroyers USS Hart (Cdr. W.D. Coleman, USN) and USS Metcalf (Cdr. D.L. Martineau, USN). (6)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16356
  2. Files 2.12.03.6849 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 199/426 + ADM 199/1185
  4. ADM 199/426
  5. ADM 199/1185 + ADM 234/346
  6. Files 2.12.03.6855 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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