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HMAS Geelong Sunk

18 OCT 1944: World War II and HMAS Geelong is sunk. HMAS Geelong was one of four corvettes lost during the Second World War. Geelong was laid down by HMA Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria on 16 October 1940. She was launched on 22 April 1941 by the wife of Lord Winston Dugan, then Governor of Victoria, and was commissioned into the RAN on 16 January 1942.

After commissioning, Geelong visited her namesake city before undergoing working up trials. On completion, the corvette was assigned as a minesweeper and anti-submarine patrol ship along the east coast of Australia, before being redeployed to New Caledonia on 8 March 1942 to perform similar duties.

In May 1942, Geelong returned Sydney, and was one of several Allied vessels located in Sydney Harbour during the Japanese midget submarine attack of 31 May 1942. In June, the ship began convoy escort runs between Sydney and Brisbane, which continued until January 1944, when she sailed to Adelaide for a two-month refit.

After the refit, Geelong briefly operated in Australian waters before being assigned to New Guinea. Using Milne Bay as a base of operations, the corvette served as a convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol ship throughout the South West Pacific Area.

On this day, she collided with an American merchant ship off New Guinea. Geelong was sunk in a collision with the US tanker YORK, off Langemak, New Guinea. CAPT H. Birkland of the YORK reported in his log:- ‘We struck the HMAS Geelong on the port quarter. (The minesweeper’s stern was severed abaft the minesweeping hatch).

They signalled they were listing badly and sinking, and asked for immediate assistance. I launched two lifeboats and they proceeded towards Geelong, and picked up two boatloads each of survivors. We were standing by about a quarter of a mile away. We succeeded to get the whole crew on board our vessel. At 9.51 p.m. the Geelong sank. Our running lights were on medium bright. Geelong had no navigation lights on’. More;

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