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September 3, 2009
By LCDR Antony Underwood
APART from Mike, 'the
82-year-old salt', mys-
tery shippers were unani-
mous in identifying Miss
August as a river class or bay class
Mike says: "My guess is that
the ship pictured is HMAS Swan, a
Grimsby class sloop of the 20th Mine
sweeping flotilla. Radar fitted. No
davits for deploying paravanes is a
All other entrants can award
themselves one point for correct
identification of the class of ship
-- river class, modified river class or
bay class are all OK by me.
One entrant, regular South
Australian retiree Dave Rickard went
for HMAS Hawkesbury after reject-
ing HMA Ships Barcoo, Gascoyne
and Diamantina. He's just returned
from two months in Canada so we'll
have to excuse his being a little wide
of the mark. One point for correctly
identifying the class.
Two other ships of the river
class were popular -- Culgoa and
SBLT Steve Dunne ANC went for
Culgoa along with Harry Goodall,
LCDR Allan Dennison and Mark
Biega. Harry was pretty confident:
"...I wish I could be assured of win-
ning the Lotto as I am that your mys-
tery ship is the HMAS Culgoa...".
Well Harry, I don't think I'd both-
er buying a Lotto ticket this week
because you, Steve and Allan were
all wrong ... but you receive a point
each for correct identification of the
class of ship.
Murchison was another popu-
lar guess with three of the entrants
-- CMDR Colin Jones (rtd), Mark
Edmistone (who had a nice sum-
mary of the river or bay class frig-
ates) and CAPT Tony Aldred who
was very definitely on the right track
... but managed, at the last moment,
to snatch defeat from the jaws of vic-
tory. All three receive a point each
though for correctly identifying the
class of ship.
Mark Edmistone said of the
bay or river class ships: "Of the 12
British-designed river class frigates
constructed in Australian dockyard, eight
were designed for anti-submarine roles
(HMA Ships Barcoo, Barwon, Burdekin,
Diamantina, Gascoyne, Hawkesbury,
Lachlan and Macquarie) and the remain-
ing four (HMA Ships Condamine,
Culgoa, Murchison and Shoalhaven)
were designed for anti-aircraft roles.
The latter ships were generally known
as modified river class frigates, although
they are sometimes referred to as bay
class, which refers to the Royal Navy's
bay class frigates.
"The bay class anti-aircraft frigates
were armed with 2 x twin 4" main tur-
rets, three x single 40mm and 2 x twin
20mm guns. The river class frigates had
the 2 x 1 4" turrets fitted to the forward
deck. Miss August clearly has a stern
fitted twin 4" turret with the 3 x 1 40mm
guns, making it a bay class frigate, but
which one? The only telltale sign of any
configuration changes is the unique rig-
ging on the deck, starboard side of the
bridge. I am unable to identify the rig-
ging but it appears in all the photos of the
Well Mark, it's no wonder that you're
unable to identify the rigging -- because
it's not Murchison.
CAPT Aldred was about as close to
the correct answer as it's possible to get.
He says: "I think Miss August is the sis-
ter ship to one of my father's favourite
ships (HMAS Shoalhaven). My answer
is that Miss August is HMAS Murchison,
due to the existence of the black band
atop the funnel (indicative of a Squadron
Leader) as I can't remember Shoalhaven
being so endowed in any photos I have
seen of her."
Well, father's favourite it is -- the
ship, not the condiment -- and those
who correctly identified her as HMAS
Shoalhaven were (in order received)
ex-Defence civilian RANVR cadet and
RAN(NS) Reg Bonney, ex-R0 'Sandy'
McNab, Tony Woodland, PO Frank Bray
ANC and SQNLDR Jimbo Stewart and
they all earned two points.
Reg says: "[Shoalhaven] was one
of four modified river class -- or bay
class -- frigates to serve in the RAN.
She was launched from Walkers yard,
Maryborough, Queensland, on December
14, 1944 and commissioned into the
RAN on May 2,1946. Her 2200 tons
could attain 19 knots. She served during
the post-war occupation of Japan as well
as in Korean waters during the 1950s,
being paid off in December 1955.
"The distinguishing feature in the
image is the extra thickness of black paint
at the top of the funnel. That denotes she
was senior officer's ship of the 1st Frigate
Squadron at the time, around 1947."
Frank Bray also remarks on the
funnel: "The photo dates from before
January 1948 while she was senior ship
of the 1st Frigate Flotilla. HMAS Culgoa
relieved her but I have never seen a photo
of Culgoa with the funnel band."
That just about does it for Miss
August, apart from one final confession
Several mystery shippers referred
obliquely to the same thing.
Ex-RO 'Sandy' McNab says: "Miss
August photo is depicted from the star-
board quarter, whereas the photo I have
sighted it is depicted from the port ...".
Tony Woodland says his reference
publication has "...a photo of a frigate in
reverse to the one in Navy News...".
Yes, mystery shippers, I flipped the
image horizontally -- not with malice
aforethought, but to have the ship sailing
into the page -- towards the centre fold
of the paper. This is a journalistic prefer-
ence for ships, aircraft, motor vehicles
and profiles of people to face or appear
to be moving 'into' the publication rather
than off the page.
If the ship had had a side number
or some other marking that would have
made a mirror reversal obvious, I would
not have done it.
For those who thought the ship was
somewhere else, the information I have
from historian Vic Jeffery who kindly
supplied the image is: "Bay class frigate
HMAS Shoalhaven entering the Port of
Thank you all for your entries.
Now, have a look at the Misses
September. This is not an easy mystery
ship. It's one an elderly salt sent me that
I don't think has been used anywhere
else. (I think I've returned the print and
don't have his details, otherwise I'd give
him a credit.)
Can you tell me: the names of the
two ships and where the pic was taken?
The only clues I offer are that one bears
the name of a type of Australian fauna
and the other of a NSW sheep town that
had an RAAF stores depot. Trainees at
the most easterly commissioned RAN
establishment might have the best idea
Your best efforts to tony.
September 14 please.
Tailpiece: The last word belongs to ex-RO
'Sandy' McNab who's engaged in an histori-
cal pursuit. He says: "You may have noted
my identification of these ships by their other
lesser known identities i.e. their allocated
Signal letters and also used as their wireless
telegraphy (W/T) call signs. It is a hobby inter-
est of mine researching the signal letters of
all RAN ships and is a work in progress.
My current worksheets are on the RANCBA
Callsigns.htm and depict those that I also still
seek. If any of your readers are able to assist
with a reply direct to me at sandypat@iinet.
net.au it would be appreciated.
(Above) Guess the Misses
BLACK BAND: HMAS
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