Allied Warships

HMAS Arunta (I 30)

Destroyer of the Tribal class

NavyThe Royal Australian Navy
PennantI 30 
Built byCockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Ltd. (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) 
Ordered24 Jan 1939 
Laid down15 Nov 1939 
Launched30 Oct 1940 
Commissioned30 Mar 1942 
End service 

Pennant numbers: I30 February 1942 - April 1953; D130 May 1953 - February 1969.

On 16th May 1942, the Japanese were reaching the limit of their advance getting no closer to Australia than the Coral Sea. In Sydney Australia, the newly completed destroyer HMAS ARUNTA was hurrying out to sea to help defend Australia's coastal shipping. Her first task was of local importance , trying to track down a Japanese submarine that had fired shells on a number of merchantmen in the general vicinity of Sydney. ARUNTA arrived at Port Moresby, New Guinea on 24th August just shortly before the Japanese invasion of that island. Her duties were to protect merchantmen from Japanese submarines. On the 24th of August, she carried out four depth charge attacks against an enemy sub and a large quantity of oil was seen to bubble to the surface. Several days later it was confirmed that the 700 ton Japanese submarine RO-33 had been sunk by ARUNTA. During the month of October, ARUNTA was employed on troop escort convoys between Queensland and New Guinea as the Australians gradually pushed the Japanese back over the Kokoda Trail. By November, she was in need of a refit but the situation in New Guinea was too critical for her departure. Instead, the ship's company had to make do with the facilities in Port Moresby. In the first month of 1943, ARUNTA was dispatched on a hazardous mission to Timor to pick up a guerrilla force that was failing to hold the Japanese at bay. After swimming through the surf, 282 soldiers, 11 women and children and 20 Portuguese civilians made it aboard and the ship arrived in Darwin, Australia without being sighted by enemy aircraft. By the end of January, ARUNTA arrived in Sydney for her much needed refit. When she returned to convoy duties between the Queensland Territory and New Guinea in March, she was accompanied by her new sister ship WARRAMUNGA. In May, both ships joined Task Force 74 in the Coral Sea. The composition of Task Force 74 was always changing as destroyers were detached to escort duties all over the South-West Pacific. After covering the US landing of troops at Saidor, New Guinea between 8th January to 7th February 1944, all ships of TF74 took time out to refit to prepare for further assaults on Japanese held positions in New Guinea and the surrounding island chains. By New Year's Day 1945, ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA left Manus bound for Luzon Philippines as part as part of the Lingayen Gulf assault force. Kamikaze attacks developed as they headed through the Sulu sea and the carrier OMMANEY BAY was sunk . At 0450 on 5th January, two Kamikazes attacked ARUNTA. One, being a Mitsubishi A6M Zero carrying a 250 pound bomb, headed straight for her bridge. By ordering the Tribal to hard a' starboard and the ship's ability to react quickly, the Zero skimmed the port side of the bridge and hit the sea alongside the gear room. The resultant explosion sent shrapnel through ARUNTA'S side severing the power cables to the steering gear. Not daring to stop, Commander Buchanan continued to steam in circles until the attack was over. Two men were killed and five wounded. It took five hours to repair the damage lying stopped in the water while the destroyer INGRAHAM circled her. Eventually, they caught up to the main body of the fleet by steaming at 25 knots. On 13th February, ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA joined a fire support group held in reserve while Corregidor was being bombarded. After spending nine days in Lingayen Gulf, both ships were recalled and they arrived in Sydney on the 16th of March for a much welcomed leave and refit. By early May, ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA were re-united again and assisted in the mopping-up of Japanese positions around New Guinea. At Balikpapan Borneo, ARUNTA participated in the shelling of shore positions from 27th June until the amphibious landing on July 1. On the 11th of July, she sailed for Sydney. Her war was over. Upon arrival in Sydney, she was dispatched to the dockyard for a major refit. A lattice foremast replaced the tripod. The mainmast and searchlight platform were removed altogether and improved radar installed. From 1945 to 1949, ARUNTA led an unspectacular life of patrols, exercises, cruises in Australian, Japanese and Pacific waters. She spent the period July 1950 to May 1953 being modernized as an anti-submarine destroyer so she did not actively participate in Korean operations. ARUNTA spent an additional four active but peaceful years in the Royal Australian Navy until she was laid up in 1957. Eventually she was sold for scrap to the China Steel Corp. of Taipei, Taiwan. She never made it to the scrap yard. On 13th February 1969, ARUNTA left Sydney under tow by the Japanese tug Toko Maru. Sixty miles south east of Broken Bay, she developed a severe list and sank - a noble way of escaping the shipwrecker's hammer.


Commands listed for HMAS Arunta (I 30)

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1Cdr. James Cairns Morrow, DSO, RAN2 Mar 194226 Aug 1943
2Cdr. Alfred Edgar Buchanan, RAN27 Aug 194318 Aug 1945
3Cdr. Galfrey George Ormond Gatacre, DSC, RAN19 Aug 194517 Oct 1947

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Notable events involving Arunta include:

17 May 1942
HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) departed Sydney for sea. She was ordered to perform an A/S search off Sydney together with the brand new Australian destroyer HMAS Arunta (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) and the US destroyer USS Perkins (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Ford, USN).

The previous day the Russian freighter Uelen (5106 GRT, built 1913) was attacked to the north of Sydney by the Japanese submarine I-29.

All three Allied ships returned to Sydney later the same day having found no enemy submarine. (1)

18 May 1942
HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) departed Sydney for convoy escort duty together with HMAS Arunta (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN). They were to escort convoy ZK 8 (Sydney - Townsville) northwards. Convoy ZK 8 was made up of four Dutch merchant vessels Bantam (3322 GRT, built 1930), Bontekoe (4668 GRT, built 1923), Van Heemskerk (2996 GRT, built 1909) and Van Heutsz (4588 GRT, built 1926).

For the daily positions during the period of 18 May 1942 to 24 May 1942, see the map below.


23 May 1942
At 1000 hours, HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and HMAS Arunta (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN), turned over the escort of convoy ZK 8 over to HMAS Swan (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Travis, RAN), HMAS Goulburn (Lt. B. Paul, RANR(S)) and HMAS Cessnock (A/Lt.Cdr. T.S. Marchington, RANR(S)).

HrMs Tromp and HMAS Arunta then reversed course to return to Sydney. (1)

24 May 1942
Very late in the evening, HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and HMAS Arunta (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN), arrived back at Sydney. (1)

9 May 1945
Around 1430K/9 the destroyer HMAS Arunta (Cdr. A.E. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) departed Manus followed around 1800K/9 by the light cruiser HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN).

Around 1700I/9, the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN) and the destroyer HMAS Warramunga (Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) departed Hollandia.

Both forces made rendezvous off Cape Wom around 0800K/10 and the 'Wewak support force' arrived off Wewak around 1300K/10.

After a preliminary run along the coast to search for the targets the sheduled bombardment commenced.

Around 1600K/10, the force retired to seaward for the night.

At 0630K/11, the 'Wewak support force' made rendezvous with the 'Wewak force' made up of the sloop HMAS Swan (Lt. W.J. Dovers, RAN) and minesweepers/corvettes Colac (Lt. K.J. Hopper, RANR(S)) and HMAS Dubbo (T/Lt. F.W. Roberts, RANR(S)) and the assault forces proceeded to their fire support areas. From 0730K/11, targets were successfully engaged to cover the assault on Red Beach. The bombardment was completed at 0840K/11.

After the landing the 'Wewak support force' retired to seaward.

Around 1230K/11, HMS Newfoundland obtained an A/S contact which was subsequently depth charged by HMAS Arunta. Both destroyers then continued to search the area during the afternoon but no further contact was obtained.

Around 1700 hours, HMAS Hobart and HMS Newfoundland carried out another bombardment after which the force was released and proceeded to Hollandia arriving there at 0700I/9. (2)

27 Jun 1945
In the morning HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) bombarded Japanese shore guns off Balikpapan.

Later that day Tromp joined Task Force 74.1 which was made up of the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire (Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, MVO, DSO, RN), the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN), the Australian destroyer HMAS Arunta (Cdr. A.E. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) and the US destroyers USS Hart (Cdr. W.D. Coleman, USN) and USS Metcalf (Cdr. D.L. Martineau, USN). (3)

Media links

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  2. ADM 53/121909 + Report from HMAS Hobart
  3. Files and (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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