Fighting the U-boats

Allied Navies

Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) did not participate as much in the Battle of the Atlantic as the other allied navies. This has its obvious reasons of course (the Pacific war being somewhat closer and no less important to Australia).

The RAN did however take a part in the battle and is credited with sinking one U-boat. They hunted the Bismarck and took also part in the D-Day landings.

In 1939 its strength was a mere 7 ships (1 heavy cruiser, 3 light cruisers, 4 destroyers and 2 sloops) and one destroyer in reserve. When the war ended they had a fleet of 1 heavy cruiser, 3 light cruisers, 11 destroyers, 6 frigates, 2 sloops, 53 corvettes, 1 minelayer and 73 other vessels.


The RAN lost 2,176 men and women during the war. This was 5,5% of its peak strength on 30 June, 1945 of 39,650 personnel. Among the ships lost were HMAS Canberra, HMAS Sydney, HMAS Voyager, HMAS Yarra and HMS Perth.

The sloop Parramatta was sunk by U-559 on 27 Nov, 1941 with the loss of 139 lives.


The RAN destroyer HMAS Nestor sank the U-127 on 14 Dec, 1941. HMAS Wollongong also helped sinking the U-617 on 12 Sept, 1943. RAN forces also sank 2 Italian and 3 Japanese submarines.

Ships of the Royal Australian Navy on 3 Sept 1939

Heavy Cruisers
Australia – not yet commissioned from refit
Canberra - in commission

Light Cruisers
Perth – in commission RN station ship in the West Indies
Sydney – in commission
Hobart – in commission
Adelaide – commissioned from reserve 1st September 1939 still loading ammunition

Stuart – in commission
Waterhen - commissioned from reserve 1st September 1939 still loading ammunition
Vampire – in commission
Vendetta – in commission
Voyager – in commission

Swan – in commission
Yarra – in commission

Destroyer - Arunta
Sloop – Warrego

Fitting out
Sloop – Parramatta

(Gill, 1957)


Gill, G. Hermon (1957). Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Volume I – Royal Australian Navy, 1939–1945.

USS Flier, The

Michael Sturma

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Books dealing with this subject include

Australia's Colonial Navies. Gillett, Ross, 1982.
Enterprise. Barrett Tillman, 2012.
Hospital Ships. Goodman, R. D., 1992.
Ofredens hav - Γ–stersjΓΆn 1939 - 1992. Linder, Jan and Lundberg, Lennart, 2002.
Running the Gauntlet. Satchell, Alister, 2001.
Ship of Ghosts. James D. Hornfischer, 2007.
The Last Schoonerman. Russell, Joe, 2006.
The USS Flier. Michael Sturma, 2008.
Valiant Occasions. Macdonnell, James Edmond, 1977.

Allied Navies