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May 4, 2012
BEFORE being bombed and
sunk by a CIA mercenary off
Balikpapan, Borneo, in April
1958, former HMAS Ipswich
had a colourful and rich service his-
tory.One of 60 Australian-built
Bathurst-class corvettes, HMAS
Ipswich was launched on August 11,
1941, at Brisbane's Evans Deakin &
Co Ltd shipyard.
Commissioned on June 13, 1942,
under the command of LCDR John
McBryde RANR(S) she undertook
coastal escort duties until October 1942.
The ship left Fremantle on
November 3, 1942, to join the Eastern
Fleet based at Kilindini, Kenya, under-
taking escort and anti-submarine
duties between the Persian Gulf and
Ipswich was transferred to the
Mediterranean theatre in May 1943 as
part of the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla
where she supported the invasion of
She patrolled widely across the
Mediterranean, visiting places such as
Alexandria, Haifa, Tobruk, Benghazi,
Tripoli, Malta, Algiers and Gibraltar.
SGT Dave Morley
of the former HMAS
A remarkable service
An officer and 10 ratings from
Ipswich formed a guard of honour for
King George VI at Tripoli on June 21,
1943, where LCDR McBryde present-
ed to the king.
Shortly after, on July 25, HMAS
Ipswich shot down one of 48 German
bombers that attacked a convoy she
was escorting off Syracuse, Sicily.
LCDR McBryde later said, "I could
see the tracers go into her -- a shower
of sparks, she caught fire, and went
down in flames, crashing about a mile
on the port beam, in the water like a
big ball of fire."
Ipswich resumed Indian Ocean
escort duties with the Eastern Fleet in
October 1943, and on December 23
rescued 134 survivors of the torpedoed
Reacting to the torpedoing of SS
Asphalion on February 11, 1944,
Ipswich, with her sister ship HMAS
Launceston and the Indian sloop
HMIS Jumna, sank the Japanese sub-
marine RO-110 in the Bay of Bengal.
She completed her Indian Ocean
service on January 21, 1945, join-
ing the 22nd Minesweeping Flotilla
of the British Pacific Fleet for escort
duties between New Guinea and the
Ipswich arrived in Tokyo Bay in
late August 1945 and was present
at the Japanese surrender on USS
Missouri on September 2.
She paid off from RAN service
at Triconomalee, Ceylon, on July 5,
1946, having steamed about 143,000
miles, and was transferred to the
Royal Netherlands Navy as HNMLS
On December 28, 1949, Morotai
transferred to the Indonesian Navy as
KRI Hang Tuah.
LONG SERVICE: HMAS
Ipswich was transferred to the
Indonesian Navy in 1949 and
renamed the KRI Hang Tuah.
Photo courtesy of Sea Power Centre
In December 1956 a rebellion by
a group of Indonesian Army colo-
nels received the support of the CIA's
Formosa-based Civil Air Transport.
The support, in what became
known as Operation Haik, was six
unmarked P-51D Mustang fighter
planes and a dozen B-26B Invader
light bombers flown by civilian pilots
hired by the CIA.
KRI Hang Tuah, based at the oil
town of Balikpapan, was ordered to
patrol the coast of East Borneo and
search for rebel supply boats.
On April 28, 1958, American pilot
William Beale with CMDR Petit
Muharto of the rebel air force, attacked
Balikpapan in a B-26B Invader.
They dropped a bomb on the air-
strip, sank a British freighter with a
second bomb, and narrowly missed
another tanker with their third bomb.
Flying in fast at just above mast-
head level, they hit the deck of Hang
Tuah with their last bomb.
The attack was over in less than a
Hang Tuah was mortally hit and
sank shortly afterwards, putting an end
to the corvette's 16 years of service in
The rebellion ended in August
1958, after CIA-hired Invader pilot
Allen Pope was shot down over
Ambon Harbour on May 18, 1958, by
P-51D pilot CAPT Ignatius Dewanto.
Dewanto's 'kill' was the first air-
to-air combat victory for the fledgling
Indonesian Air Force.
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