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Launch of HMAS ARUNTA (I)

Date: 30 November 1940
Medium: Emulsion, nitrate film
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Nitrate negative
Object No: 00020000
Place Manufactured:Cockatoo Island
Related Place:Cockatoo Island,

User Terms

    This photograph captures the launching of the Tribal class destroyer HMAS ARUNTA (I) on 30 November 1940 at Cockatoo Island dockyard in Sydney. The Governor-General's wife, Lady Gowrie, launched the ship on a wet and blustery Saturday morning.
    SignificanceHood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia, recording harbour activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s; in this case the war-time launch of a much-needed destroyer, HMAS ARUNTA.
    HistoryThe building of the Tribal class destroyers was an important war-time event as evidenced by these newspaper reports of the launch of HMAS ARUNTA.

    From The Canberra Times, Monday 2 December 1940:
    "Their Excellencies the Governor-General and the Lady Gowrie, attended by members of the Personal Staff, visited Cockatoo Dockyard, Sydney, on Saturday morning, when Her Excellency launched H.M.A.S. "Arunta" and subsequently His Excellency laid the keel of another unit of the Royal Australian Navy."

    From The Adelaide Advertiser, Monday 2 December 1940:
    "'May it be her destiny that she adds one more page to the glorious history of the Royal Australian Navy,' exclaimed Lady Gowrie, as she pulled a lever which sent the new ship down the slipway."

    From The Canberra Times, Monday 2 December 1940:
    'Every bolt - every rivet - that is hammered into the hull of one of these ships is a nail in the coffin of Hitler and his gang,' declared the Governor-General (Lord Gowrie) at the launching at Cockatoo Island dockyard on Saturday of H.M.A.S. Arunta, the first Tribal class destroyer to be laid down in any British Dominion. The Arunta, which is the largest naval vessel launched in Australia since H.M.A.S. Albatross 12 years ago, was christened by Her Excellency the Lady Gowrie during a rain squall over Sydney.

    The "Tribal" destroyers rank high among British destroyers in size, weight of armament and power. Of 1870 tons displacement, they are designed to 40,000 horsepower, and have a speed of 30 knots. Their approximate dimensions are 360 feet length, 36 feet beam, with a draught of 15 feet. Their complement is 190 men.
    Their striking power lies more in the gun than in the torpedo tube. For this reason they are heavily gunned for ships of their size, being armed with eight 4.7" guns, and eight smaller guns. They do, however, carry also a knock-out blow in each of their four 21" torpedo tubes.

    The great value of the "Tribals" lies in their general utility. They are admirably suited both for fleet work and in trade defence. In fleet work, in which the destroyer's role is not only to screen the main units against torpedo attack, but also to themselves launch torpedo attacks on the main enemy units, the "Tribals" excel. With superior armament, both from the view of number of guns and their rapid rate of fire, they ensure that a favourable position from which to attack will not be denied them. Their guns are on four dual mountings and can be fired at practically any angle. They have, therefore, very strong anti-aircraft qualities, and can be most effectively used in this. The "Tribals" are of an ideal type for construction in Australia in war-time. They are sufficiently small to enable speedy construction, and at the same time their output will provide the Navy with most suitable and effective units. Their cost is over £1,000,000 each, but it will be more than repaid in the added assurance of security to our coasts."

    In the war years 1939 to 1945 Sydney's Cockatoo Island Dockyard constructed three Tribal class destroyers, named ARUNTA, WARRAMUNGA and BATAAN. ARUNTA was launched on 30 November 1940, and served in most of the South-West Pacific campaigns earning the following battle honours: Pacific 1942-45, New Guinea 1942-44, Leyte Gulf 1944, Lingayen Gulf 1945, and Borneo 1945.

    ARUNTA commissioned on 30 April 1942 and soon commenced operational duties as a convoy escort between east coast Australia and New Guinea. In 1943 ARUNTA assisted in the evacuation of guerrilla troops from Timor and later joined the RAN/USN Task Force 74. Other duties included escorts, patrols, troop landings and evacuations, and bombardment tasks during the amphibious campaigns in New Guinea, Bougainville and New Britain. In October 1944 ARUNTA took part in the reconquest of the Philippines, including bombardments at Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Surigao Strait. Further involvement in the Philippines campaign occurred in 1945, including supporting the landings of Australian troops at Wewak, Brunei Bay and Balikpapan. After the war ARUNTA served in Japanese waters as part of the occupation force.

    ARUNTA returned to Cockatoo dockyard in 1950 for a modernisation refit and then served in Korean waters, as well as part of FESR (Far Eastern Strategic Reserve) and finally a deployment to northern Australian waters for fishery patrols. On 21 October 1956 she paid off into Operational Reserve, finally being sold for scrap in November 1968. On 13 February 1969 ARUNTA sank 65 miles off the NSW coast while under tow to Formosa.

    ARUNTA is named for the Arrernte people of central Australia; and its motto is Conquer or Die. HMAS ARUNTA (II) is an ANZAC class frigate launched in 1996.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Image depicts the launching of ARUNTA I at Cockatoo Dock Sydney Australia

    Web title: Launch of HMAS ARUNTA (I)

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