Commissioned in 1899 as a light cruiser, Psyche served with the Royal Navy on the Australia Station prior to the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, she took part in the operations to capture Germany's Pacific colonies, and undertook escort duties. Returning to Australian waters, Psyche was laid up in Sydney in late 1914.

In July 1915, Psyche was commissioned into the RAN and was ordered to the Bay of Bengal. Based at Rangoon, she carried out routine patrols along the Burma Coast and Malay Archipelago. Disease, combined with poor food, inclement weather and dull duties led to dissatisfaction and indiscipline that culminated in several court martials in February and March 1916. Psyche was recalled to Singapore and an inquiry was held to determine the cause of the indiscipline and recommend measures to correct it.

Psyche returned to duty in the Bay of Bengal in April 1916 and in June 1916 she was redeployed to Hong Kong to patrol off the South Coast of China and Indo-China. Poor conditions continued to prevail aboard and in July 1916 almost a half of of the crew were suffering from illness.

Psyche returned to the Bay of Bengal in October 1916 and continued patrol work until she was recalled to Australia in September 1917, and paid off. She was recommissioned for patrol work off the eastern Australian coast in November and remained a commissioned vessel of the RAN until March 1918. Psyche was finally sold in 1922 and ended her days as a timber lighter.
ReferencesJ. Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1975).; R. Gillett, Australian & New Zealand warships, 1914-1945, (Lane Cove: Doubleday, 1983).; A.W. Jose, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume IX, The Royal Australian Navy, (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1937).; J.H. Straczek, The Royal Australian Navy: ships, aircraft and shore establishments, (Sydney: Navy Public Affairs, 1996).
Related place Bay of Bengal
Related conflicts First World War, 1914-1918
Related events Operations against German Pacific territories
Commanding officers
Subjects Cruisers
Alternative names
  • HMAS Psyche
  • HMS Psyche (1898-1915)
Unit hierarchy
Pendant NumberNil
SpecificationsClass: Pelorus Class light cruiser; Launched: 19 July 1898; Commissioned: 2 May 1899; Complement: 230; Length: 314 feet [95.7m]; Beam: 36 feet 9 inches [11.2m]; Draught: 17 feet [5.18m]; Displacement: 2135 tons; Speed: 20.5 knots (design speed; by 1914 Psyche could not exceed 16 knots); Armament: 8 x 4-inch guns; 8 x 3-pounder guns; 2 x 14-inch torpedo tubes; Armour: 2 inches [50mm] deck