Ship's wheel : HMAS Bathurst I

Accession Number REL40913
Collection type Technology
Object type Maritime vessel or watercraft
Physical description Brass, Wood
Maker Cockatoo Island Dockyard
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made c 1940
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Wooden eight-spoked ship's wheel (helm) with central brass boss and a circular brass overlay on each side of the wheel by 23 brass screws. The boss is impressed 'AF (remains of broad arrow symbol) 1'.

History / Summary

The Australian corvette HMAS Bathurst (I) was launched on 1 August 1940, the first of sixty minesweepers built in Australian dockyards during the Second World War. In her honour the ships where thereafter known as 'Bathurst' class. Commissioned in Sydney on 6 December under the command of Lieutenant Commander Andrew Veitch Bunyan, Royal Australian Naval Reserve (RANR), the 730 ton Bathurst began her career with the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla operating in waters around the east coast of Australia, Malaya and Singapore.

In early June 1941 the Bathurst joined the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet at the East Indies Station before transferring to the Red Sea Force based at Aden later that same month. The ship was tasked with patrolling the Gulf Of Tajura in French Somaliland, reinforcing the Allied blockade of the African Coast.

In October 1942, Bunyan was relieved by Lieutenant Commander Charles MacDonald, RANR. In December the Bathurst relocated to a new home port at Colombo, Ceylon and assumed escort and patrol duties in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

During MacDonald's command the Bathurst undertook constant anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties across the Arabian Sea. Refitted at Colombo in September 1943 Bathurst extended her escort duties to include troopships travelling from the Middle East to the South West Pacific theatres.

While in Bombay on 14 April 1944, the Bathurst assisted in rescue and salvage following an explosion on board the ammunition ships Fort Stikine and Jalapadma that devastated the dock area, resulting in over 1300 deaths and the loss of over 34,000 tons of shipping.

The Bathurst returned to Australia in September to patrol the waters around Australia and New Guinea. Following the surrender of the Japanese Bathurst, now under the command of Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Oswald Stewart, RANR, was sent to assist in the clearing of mines in the approaches to Hong Kong. Three years later the ship was sold for scrap and broken up.