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  HMAS Colac (J242/M05)
HMAS
Bathurst class corvette

650 Tons (standard)
1,025 (loaded)
186' x 31' x 8.5'
(As Built Armament)
1 x 12 pounder
3 x 20mm cannons
.50 caliber MG
Depth Charges

(Late War Armament)
1 x 4" Mark XIX gun
1 x Bofors 40mm gun
3 x 20mm cannons
.50 caliber MG
Depth Charges

PacificWrecks.com
PacificWrecks.com
RAN September 1944
Ship History
Built by Mort's Dock and Engineering Company Ltd. in Sydney. Laid down April 18, 1941 as a Bathurst class corvette. Launched August 30, 1941 sponsored by Miss M Heady, senior lady employed by Mort's Dock and Engineeering Company. Comissioned January 2, 1942 into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as HMAS Colac (J242/M05) the first ship named for Colac in Victoria. Afterwards, conducted sea trials off Sydney.

Wartime History
During 1942, conducted anti-submarine patrols and performed convoy escort between Townsville and New Guinea.

In December 1942 HMAS Colac, HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Broom embarked Australian Army soldiers and land them in the vicinity of the Japanese beachhead at Buna. On December 14, 1942 they began landing at Cape Sudest but an unidentified aircraft began dropping flares and all three withdrew fearing an attack without unloaded all their troops. Later that same day, the rest of the soldiers were landed at another location. Afterwards, Colac performed three other troop transport runs. Afterwards, Colac participated in Operation Lilliput the Allied operation to reinforce and resupply the Buna/Gona area.

During March 1943 Colac returned to covoy escort duties off the eastern coast of Australia. On April 26, 1943 Colac and Ballarat were escorting convoy GP48 off Cape Byron, New South Wales when Japanese submarine I-177 torpedoed and sank MV Limerick. Afterwards, Colac rescuing her surviving crew.

In July 1943 resumed escorting convoys between Australia and New Guinea for the rest of the year. In January 1944 returned to convoy escort off eastern Australia then underwent a refit including the replacement of the main gun with a 4" Mark XIX gun and adding a Bofors 40mm gun.

During April 1944 returned to New Guinea. For the rest of 1944 and early months of 1945 Colac served as an escort, patrol vessel and performed transport duties as far forward as the Halmahera Island.

During April 1945 and May 1945 Colac with the sloop HMAS Swan and HMAS Deloraine and HMAS Dubbo, provided bombardment support for during the Wewak campaign bombarding targets on Wewak Point, Muschu Island, Kairiru Island and Cape Samier.

During May 1945, proceeded to Bougainville to participate in operations to harass the Japanese, destroy installations and prevent Japanese from evacuating troops from Choiseul to Bougainville.

On May 25, 1945 at 6:00pm entered the harbor (possibly Choiseul Bay) formed by a row of offshore islands 500m off the coast of Choiseul and fired on shore targets including barges without opposition.

On May 26, 1945 at 6:00pm repeated the same gun run entering the same harbor off the coast of Choiseul and when turning to starboard to proceed down the same channel heard a shell roar overhead and impact an island on the port side. Colac spotted smoke from the shore battery on the headland opposite the entrance to the channel and returned fire.

While turning to exit the harbor, hit by two shells in rapid succession. The first shell hit the quarter killing Steward Brian M. P. Shute and Able Seaman Stanley R. Smith both manning a .50 caliber machine gun and wounded two other sailors. The second shell hit at the waterline and caused the vessel to begin to take on water and settle by the stern. Immediately, the crew jettisoned stores and depth charges and proceeded to Blanche Bay but had to be taken under tow by Caledonian Salvor. After temporary repairs were made at Blanche Bay, Colac was towed to to Finschafen. Afterwards arrived at Sydney on June 18, 1945 for additional repairs until the end of the Pacific War.

Postwar
On November 27, 1945 placed into reserve status. On February 20, 1951 recommissioned as a training ship for National Service Trainees and Naval Reserve personnel and operated in Australia for the next two years. On January 30, 1953 again placed into reserve service. In 1962 converted into a tank cleaning vessel until September 30, 1983.

Sinking History
On March 4, 1987 towed off Jervis Bay, New South Wales for use as a target and sunk by a Mark 48 torpedo fired by HMAS Ovens at roughly Lat 34°49.2´ South, Long 151°32´ East.

Memorials
Colac is recognized on a memorial plaque In memory of those who served HMA Ships [location unknown] dedicated by the RAN Corvette Associations of Australia in recognition of each of the 56 Australian built Second World War RAN corvettes.

References
CWGC - Brian Milton Percival Shute, 4189
CWGC - Stanley R. Smith, 22194
Australian Navy HMAS Colac
Navy News "Deadly Outcome of Attack" by Sgt Dave Morley August 10, 2017

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Last Updated
May 26, 2020

 

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